Climate change adaptation programmes are being actively planned and implemented around the world, but particularly in places where climate change is threatening liveability. Critical adaptation scholars warn that adaptation practice largely utilizes techno-managerial and market-based approaches which can effectively disempower local communities or re-distribute vulnerabilities to the most marginalized. To foreground alternatives to mainstream conceptions of ‘best practice’ in climate change adaptation, this paper draws upon postdevelopment perspectives. We present a theoretical framework to articulate the diverse, locally based, everyday adaptation response of local communities to climate change. Drawing on a small island in the Philippines as a case study, we discuss how community members respond to climate change through collective action, reciprocity, and advocacy to shape their own adaptation. A range of qualitative methods including focus groups, semi-structured interviews and participant observation reveal how community members devise their own strategies to exploit openings in politics, economy, and knowledge to advance their needs and agendas. Rather than relying on business-as-usual adaptation trajectories, this paper highlights the importance of diverse, spontaneous, and locally driven initiatives in imagining new visions for how to respond to climate change in the future.