In an era of ecological degradation, global climate change, demographic shifts and increasing intensity and frequency of natural hazards, the Pacific Islands including the State of Hawai‘i face heightened risk. Human and environmental well-being are tightly coupled; thus, science-based solutions must marry place-based, culturally relevant processes that link disaster preparedness, relief and recovery with resilience theories and applications. However, these fields remain mired in epistemological silos, and the operationalization of these theories has been slow, particularly at the community level. This paper explores the challenges of bridging these intersecting fields and the application of theory to practice, through a community-based case study in Hanalei, Hawai‘i. We deployed household surveys, key informant interviews and traditional talk-story sessions to gather baseline information on demographic and socio-ecological transformations, perceptions of risk and preparedness, and coping and adaptive capacity measures.