We review wave energy conversion technologies for niche applications, i.e., kilowatt-scale systems that allow for more agile design, faster deployment and easier operation than utility scale systems. The wave energy converters for niche markets analysed in this paper are classified into breakwater-integrated, hybrid, devices for special applications. We show that niche markets are emerging as a very vibrant landscape, with several such technologies having now achieved operational stage, and others undergoing full-scale sea trials. This review also includes flexible devices, which started as niche applications in the 1980s and are now close to commercial maturity. We discuss the strong potential of flexible devices in reducing costs and improving survivability and reliability of wave energy systems. Finally, we show that the use of WECs in niche applications is supporting the development of utility-scale projects by accumulating field experience, demonstrating success stories of grid integration and building confidence for stakeholders.