Dolphin Bay Hotel - Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii - No Frills, Family-Style Hotel

Owned and operated by the Alexander family since its establishment in 1968, the Dolphin Bay Hotel offers visitors a simple and affordable place to stay in the heart of Hilo. It is currently managed by John Alexander, a legacy of the founders.

Accommodations at the Dolphin Bay Hotel include 18 guest rooms plus an additional six units in the Iliahi Apartments across the street. The latter are available for long-term stay. All rooms come with a fully equipped kitchen, bath and shower. Cable TV and room fans are also provided as standard. Computer hookup is available upon request through the front office.

Guest rooms come in four configurations. The Standard Studio comes with two twin beds or one queen bed and sleeps one or two persons. The Superior Studio can take up to three persons with the addition of a rollaway bed. It comes with a queen bed or a queen and twin bed, and it has a large built-in-Roman type tub with shower.

The Dolphin Bay Hotel's One Bedroom Apartments feature a living room with two twin beds, and a bedroom with a queen and a twin bed. They can accommodate up to four persons. The Two Bedroom Apartment, of which there is just one, can handle up to six guests, with a queen bed in each bedroom and two twin beds in the living room. It also has an open-air lanai.

Although the Dolphin Bay Hotel does not have its own pool or restaurant, facilities within walking distance include swimming spots as well as evening entertainment. Guests are permitted to cook their own meals in their rooms, too.

The management caters primarily to families, couples and individuals who arrive by rented car and spend most of their visit exploring the many attractions of the Big Island. The hotel is seen primarily as a place to rest between excursions. Its location in a quiet Hilo neighborhood and close to tourist sites makes it an excellent jumping off point for local adventures.

In this regard, Alexander and his staff are happy to assist guests in planning day trips, mapping out routes, arranging tours, advising on restaurants and providing other services vacationers might need. They are particularly knowledgeable about local volcano culture and can recommend places to view lava flows. They even have expertise in "lava cooking,'' which is not permitted in the protected Volcano National Park area, but is possible in certain other places on the island.

One unique feature of the small hotel is its Dolphin Bay Garden. Alexander has developed the property as a "botanical wonderland.'' The grounds contain many varieties of anthurium and hundreds of exotic orchids. Also here for guests to enjoy are palm trees, plumeria, ginger, halconias, bird of paradise, and native Hawaiian ferns. Among native fruits are avocado, bread fruit, star fruit, pineapple, oranges and mountain apples. A number of pathways behind the hotel take visitors through this small jungle garden to where banana trees and bamboo grow beside a rushing stream.

The Dolphin Bay Hotel is located at 333 Iliahi Street, Hilo, Hawaii 96720. It is easily accessed from Hilo Airport by taking Kekuanaoa Street to Kilauea Avenue and turning right. From there, pass through downtown Hilo and the name of the street will change to Keawe Street, which becomes one-way. Across the white arched bridge, turn left onto Iliahi Street. The Dolphin Bay Hotel is on the left side of the street about half way down. Parking is behind the hotel.

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