The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Western Pacific Regional Office developed the biennial Healthy Islands Recognition Awards (HIA) in 2009 to reinforce the Healthy Islands vision and encourage countries to continue to innovate and demonstrate effective and efficient ways of promoting and protecting population health. This research aimed to identify characteristics of and challenges for successful health promotion in the Pacific. The research was undertaken to develop practical guidance for other groups in the Pacific Islands interested in supporting Healthy Islands. We used a qualitative case study to review 2013 and 2015 HIA awardees from eight Pacific Island countries and territories using a set of questions drawn from the HIA application criteria. In 2015–2016, 35 key informant interviews and a review of program documents were undertaken. This was followed by a workshop with representatives from three HIA awardees to further develop recommendations. We reviewed eight programs targeting healthy eating, physical activity, healthy settings and sanitation. Using evidence, careful planning, building capacity, developing partnerships, strengthening and reorientating networks, ensuring accountability and conducting evaluation were keys to the success of healthy islands projects. Considering the local setting and community was perhaps the most crucial theme amongst the programs examined. Challenges included funding and capacity constraints, maintaining commitment and prioritisation, maintaining communication and coordination and technical challenges. Success factors, challenges and recommendations aligned well with mainstream health promotion literature, although some important distinctions exist. Further research is needed to guide successful health promotion practice in the Pacific.