Local governments are not adapting to sea-level rise because it is difficult to build consensus on the need for change and the best way to implement it. In theory, adaptation pathways can resolve this impasse. Adaptation pathways are a sequence of linked strategies that are triggered by a change in environmental conditions, and in which initial decisions can have low regrets and preserve options for future generations. We report on a project that sought to empirically test the relevance and feasibility of a local pathway for adapting to sea-level rise. We find that triggers of change that have social impacts are salient to local people, and developing a local adaptation pathway helps build consensus among diverse constituencies. Our results show that adaptation pathways are feasible at the local scale, offering a low-risk, low-cost way to begin the long process of adaptation to sea-level rise.