Pacific small island states (PSIS) currently experience harsh impacts of a changing climate: sea level rise, saltwater intrusion, internal migration and displacement. Are adaptation strategies based upon island-centric principles more successful than those originating from a more continental point of view? This research examined the principles of island-centric thinking using an island-centric lens by which to determine ‘successful’ climate adaptation planning. The findings illustrate a statistically significant relationship between PSIS that have higher nissological (island-centric) levels displayed within their climate change action plans (CCAPs) and CCAPs that were found to be more successful. In other words, highly nissological states are forecasted to be more successful in planning for the current and future impacts of climate change than those with lower nissological scores. In total, nissology explains approximately 28.37% of a PSIS's success. The policy relevance is rooted in the unique cultural, geographical, and social aspects of islands. Findings are applicable to other islands as well countries that share islander-based qualities. The methodological and quantitative-based areas of the study assist in forming policy-relevant determinations for island societies based on the climate-related parameters and metrics tested and evaluated herein.