Climate change will bring significant impacts to coastal areas due to sea level rise and an increase in storm intensity and wave height. Coastal communities in the UK are also the focus of a series of socio-economic challenges. As well as ageing populations, some coastal areas of the UK are characterised by having fragile economic conditions including low incomes, seasonal employment and pressure on services during the summer months. Coastal areas also experience high levels of youth out-migration. For instance, in East Lindsey (East of the UK) for every two people aged 18-24 that move out of the area, three people aged over 60 move in. The UK population as a whole is ageing and this trend is particularly evident along Britain’s coasts which have been traditionally popular retirement destinations. Rural areas along the coast experienced an increase in the proportion of their population aged over 65 between 1981 and 2001. In addition, coastal districts away from the main urban centres have disproportionate numbers of retired people. Some coastal resorts are said to suffer from the worse aspects of both urban and rural deprivation. Deprivation is particularly severe in the most isolated coastal resorts. Even larger and more prosperous resorts such as Bournemouth, Brighton and Skegness contain pockets of deprivation. Existing deprivation of coastal resorts is caused by a combination of coastal demography (with high proportion of retirees and benefits claimants), housing tenure, low wages, transitory populations and narrow economic activities. This paper is based on the results of research funded by the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) in the UK. The research project aimed to identify the key gaps, barriers and synergies that affect community engagement in adaptation planning for coastal change (e.g. adapting to increased erosion and sea level rise). The project was a response to the concern that participation in debates about adaptation and the best solutions for different communities has not been happening, or at least not effectively or consistently, at the local level in the UK. There is a need to better involve communities in adaptation planning to help move towards greater consensus and manage divergent opinion where consensus proves difficult. Evidence from urban regeneration suggests that involved and empowered communities and groups are also more mature and able to live with decisions where they understand the issues, risks and process and feel they have had their say. The research was undertaken through desk reviews, stakeholder interviews, five case studies with coastal communities and a national stakeholder workshop. These tasks have informed the development of the a National Guidance document on Community Adaptation Planning and Engagement. The key findings revolved around the significant communications and engagement gaps relating to current approaches to engaging coastal communities; lack of awareness of climate change; and how to structure and integrate adaptation planning in the context of the many other coastal management and planning activities. Our study found evidence that coastal communities in the UK do not feel they are being meaningfully involved in decision-making, which can lead to distrust in authorities. Communities are at very different stages in terms of engagement and awareness of coastal and climate change - the need to ‘adapt’ or ‘change’ is not well understood at the local level; and people are more likely to adapt if they have the awareness, knowledge, skills and experience to engage with the technical aspects of adaptation measures. The findings have clear implications for policy makers and practitioners working in the field of climate change adaptation. The findings also suggest that the vulnerability of disadvantaged coastal communities may be exacerbated by their low awareness of climate change impacts and the need to adapt.