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Dolphin Bay
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All reviewsbanana breadfresh fruitevery morninghotel catthe big islandsmall kitchencoqui frogsfull kitchenone bedroom apartmentdowntown hilosmall hotelbanana treestropical gardenquiet streetthe lack of air conditioningfriendly hotelclose to downtown
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Reviewed June 18, 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, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank J_and_E_from_Denver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 2, 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, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank oceanside-Mary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 30, 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, traveled as a couple
1  Thank whitepetal27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 25, 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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1  Thank yodasark
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 10, 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, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank TWallace75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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