Abstract In 1998, in order to combat the degradation of yellow tang populations on the west coast of Hawaii Island, fish replenishment areas (FRAs) were established prohibiting aquarium fishing along more than thirty percent of the coastline. Unlike other marine management approaches in Hawaii, which have largely been controversial, fraught with confusion over regulations, inadequately enforced, and lacking public support, these FRAs have been lauded as a marine conservation success, with wide-ranging support and evidence of rapid replenishment of the yellow tang population. In order to better understand the contextual factors contributing to the success of the West Hawaii FRAs, this research explores the following questions: (1) What factors documented in the literature on marine protected areas (MPAs) have been demonstrated to contribute to or inhibit MPA success internationally; (2) which of these factors do the FRAs of West Hawaii exhibit; and (3) are there additional factors that may have contributed to their wide acceptance and success? Common factors contributing to MPA success are determined through a synthesis of the literature. These include: level of community engagement, socioeconomic characteristics, ecological factors, MPA design, governance, and enforcement. The outcomes of West Hawaii′s FRAs are examined in the context of these factors. While the common factors agreed upon in the literature were key to the success of the FRAs, additional contextual factors such as the unique nature of the aquarium fishery and its social marginalization also played a vital role.