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“Good value for money”
Review of Dolphin Bay

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Dolphin Bay
Ranked #2 of 8 Hotels in Hilo
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 87 helpful votes
“Good value for money”
Reviewed 23 July 2010

We stayed at the Dolphin Bay for one night as a rest stop between Volcano and a long drive up the Hamakua Coast towards Kailua-Kona. As we arrived quite early in the day before they had had a chance to clean many of the vacated rooms, we were given the room directly opposite reception. I assume that this was a Superior Double as we had requested. The unit was very pleasant and clean. I agree with previous positive reviews in that, while the rooms are not lush and the decor a little bit dated, they are spacious and sufficiently fitted to make one's stay comfortable. There was a small kitchen area, fitted with a cooker w/ oven, large fridge-freezer, microwave, utensils, tableware and cleaning materials which would be particularly useful to those who choose a longer stay. It can get quite humid in Hilo, but we found that the fans which had been installed in the room were more than enough to address the lack of air conditioning.
The staffs helpfulness and friendly manner are really what enable me to rate this hotel a little higher than I might otherwise.

We have only one gripe: although Dolphin Bay is advertised online and in magazines as having free wifi when we arrived this was not available. We did enquire at the desk as to whether this was just a glitch but it seemed to be the status quo. No explanation was given as to why this was no longer available despite the advertising, which was quite disappointing. We were really needing to access the internet at the time to deal with some affairs back home, and with Hilo being quite sparse for amenities there was no alternative.

I have read in numerous Big Island travel guides that the Dolphin Bay is the best in Hilo, and after seeing what Hilo has to offer, I am inclined to agree.

If you MUST stay in Hilo for more than one night Dolphin Bay would be the place to crash (IMHO there really is so so so little to see and do in Hilo bar indulging in various flavoured Mochi at Two Ladies Kitchen or going on a spending spree at Big Island Candies).

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank cmarramos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (124)
Date | Rating
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English first
Albuquerque, NM
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 July 2010

Finding it is a little tricky. Call them as you get to town and they will give you great directions. Our family of 3 adults and 1 teenager stayed one night in the 2 room apartment and appreciated the space and John's waiving of the 2 night requirement. The apartment is really a 3 bedroom with a small kitchen. The living room is set up with 2 twin beds and some rolling chairs. The bedroom next to the bathroom smelled like urine. This is the only reason I would not recommend it. I have a pretty sensitive sense of smell and this may not bother someone else. I moved to one of the twin beds in the living room and slept much better. The twins have nice pillow top mattresses. The bathroom had a spacious, nicely tiled shower. The banana grove behind the parking lot is beautiful and the front of the hotel has very pretty landscaping. It was really nice to sit on our balcony which faced the front and have breakfast. Take a walk around the banana grove at night and sit on the bench and listen to the frogs. It is very peaceful. The frogs didn't bother us at all. Where we live has night sounds of nature so we are used to it. If you are in Hilo on a Wednesday or Saturday be sure to go to the Farmers Market. It’s an easy walk there from the hotel and is great for more than just fresh produce - booths selling all kinds of stuff from blown glass jewelry to cheap stuff. Watch the guy preparing coconuts with a machete. Sea Jay gives a great chair massage

  • Stayed June 2010, travelled with family
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Helpful?
2 Thank abqtravelgal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Level 5 Contributor
55 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 61 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 June 2010

We really loved this little hotel - it was just our style. The family-run atmosphere, the cozy room, the fresh fruit and pastries at breakfast were all great but what really makes this a special place are the people who run the place.

We arrived a little after-hours on a Sunday evening and were immediately met by Annette, a very jovial woman who greeted us warmly and who we quickly learned was a walking Hilo Encyclopedia. Over the course of the next 30 minutes she apprised us about everything we could ever possibly want to know about the place. The city's history, what to see in town, what not to waste time on, where to find this or that meal, where the locals like to go out at night, where to get groceries, which stores sold the best gifts, where to see the Honu turtles, and finally, when she finished that she began another lengthy discussion about where to go when we were done seeing the town itself and wanted venture to the best sights within easy driving distance. Needless to say we probably grasped only 50% but sure had a fun time doing it.

But, as their brochure states, this is not a place for everyone. If you are looking for a sterile full-service resort that caters to a finicky guest's every wish onsite, with fancy trappings and lush tennis couts and golf courses then Doplhin Bay is not for you - look elsewhere for that. However if, like us, you want a comfortable and affordable place to stay while you spend your days out & about taking in the beauty of this side of the island , somewhere with some character, then you won't find a more suitable place anywhere in town. The people really make the place. Besides Annette, the staff that runs the place on dayshift are also extremely friendly and always willing to provide helpful suggestions based on their intimate knowledge of the area.

While we were staying here we enjoyed so much of this side of Hawaii, in large part from suggestions made by the folks here. On our way to Hilo we toured the Hamakua coast, hiked in the Kalopa rain forest and went to Laupahoehoe point. The next day included a drive through the North Hilo district, visiting Akaka falls and meeting Ki'e, AKA Coconut Joe, the resident basket-maker. We hiked through more rainforests, visited the beach at Honoma and then walked the exquisite Hawaii tropical gardens, Later we drove up the saddle road and witnessed the most spectacular sunset from the summit of Mauna Kea. The next day, our last in Hilo, we saw more waterfalls, Liliuokalani Park , the Tsunami museum, did a little shopping and ate lunch at the Suisan fish market downtown. The day culminated with a flight over the erupting Pu O'o volcano that we enjoyed as we left town on our way up the mountain to our three nights stay in Volcano Village.

Thanks so much for providing the perfect base camp and a grand introduction to this often-bypassed working side of the Island. Fortunately for us the weather cooperated and we had 2 full sunny days to enjoy the area. We had a wonderful time staying here and will definitely return the next time we have chance to be on the Big Island again.

For those folks we know as well as those we don't... If you love to travel and really learn about the place where you are visiting this is definitely the place for you - Coqui frogs and all!

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank J_and_E_from_Denver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Huntley, IL
Level 6 Contributor
148 reviews
58 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 June 2010

Dolphin Bay is a "find". You can have bananas from their own private garden in back that you can tour. Fresh papayas are a nice touch. The coconut danish were unique. Staff was very friendly and the owner will tell you about the history of the area and where to tour. Don't miss the Lilikilani Japanese Garden in the Hilo bay park and the banyon trees planted by famous people. The Lyman Museum is a good spot for a rainy day tour. Don't miss Ken's House of Pancakes for good affordable food in a local atmosphere. Hilo is underrated and is a nice place to visit.

  • Stayed April 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank oceanside-Mary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Jersey
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 May 2010

We stayed at Dolphin Bay earlier this week for 3 nights. Great proximity to Volcanoes National Park and downtown Hilo. I would classify the rooms as somewhat "rustic" but roomy and clean. It felt like the real Hawaii - not some bland copy of Hawaii you would get at a large impersonal hotel or resort. The highlight was the lush tropical garden in the back of the property. Just a really nice, relaxing, laid back place to stay in Hilo, Also- would recommend Surf Break cafe very close by in downtown Hilo for an awesome smoothie, or breakfast or lunch

Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank whitepetal27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Long Beach, California
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 May 2010

I spent a week in this little hotel with my two sisters and we enjoyed it. It is in a residential area of Hilo, away from the big hotels. The small kitchen allowed us to cook our meals. They furnished pastries and fresh papayas with coffee every morning. We also enjoyed sitting out on the small deck in the evening listening to the frogs. The rooms were clean and the staff was very friendly and knowledgeable. The only thing I did not like was that the double bed was too soft and. I am used to a firmer mattress. I thought it was a good value and would gladly return.

  • Stayed May 2010
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Helpful?
1 Thank yodasark
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Seattle, WA
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 May 2010

Coqui frogs are loud and very numerous outside the hotel. They don't have AC, so you pretty much have to leave the windows open as you sleep to keep cool. We thought this might make it hard to sleep due to the frog noise, but I didn't find them that annoying and slept right through it. However, the birds woke me up at 5:30 with their chirping. Wouldn't have been a big deal had I used the free ear plugs. I actually enjoyed the sound of the frogs. I'm sure the locals must be sick of them, though.

The hotel staff is very friendly and offers great tips on things to do around Hilo. They were extremely helpful during our stay. We only stayed one night, but after check out we stored our bags in the lobby while we went snorkeling at Kapoho tide pools and sight seeing around town. We came back to the hotel (after checkout) to use the bathrooms and refill our water bottles and they were still very friendly and helpful even after checkout.

  • Stayed May 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank TWallace75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Dolphin Bay

Property: Dolphin Bay
Address: 333 Iliahi St, Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HI 96720-2399
Region: United States > Hawaii > Island of Hawaii > Hilo
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 8 Hotels in Hilo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Dolphin Bay 2.5*
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Seasoned guidance for a wide range of Big Island adventures. Walking distance to downtown Hilo. Clean quiet & reasonable. All rooms with kitchens. Free WiFi Internet available. Rated nicest small hotel in Hilo. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Dolphin Bay Hilo, Hawaii
Dolphin Bay Hotel Hilo

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