by Lissa Poirot
Two minutes down the road from downtown Pismo Beach and its pier, a newer development of resorts and properties have been opening on what the locals refer to as Shell Beach. Still part of Pismo Beach, the new area caters to those families looking for luxury, space, and perhaps the benefits of Pismo without being in Pismo proper.
Dolphin Bay Resort is one such new property. With only 62 rooms, you would think the resort may be small, but each of its rooms is a one- or two-bedroom suite with fully equipped kitchens, washer and dryer, living room, dining room and tons of amenities to make guests feel they are truly at home on vacation. Nestled into the cliff, the resort’s pool is an oasis of palm trees, and California cuisine can be found in the resort’s onsite restaurant. You’ll find it hard to leave the resort when you elect to stay at Dolphin Bay with your family.
Our Editor Loves
- One- and two-bedroom suites
- Complimentary bike rentals
- Fully equipped kitchens
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Wi-Fi
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
All 62 suites feature fully equipped kitchens with ovens and cooktops, full-sized refrigerators, dishwashers, china, silverware, glassware, and cooking equipment. A full-sized washer/dryer is also a highlight, stocked with detergents. Living rooms may offer a gas fireplace, and dining rooms comfortably seat at least four. All suites also feature a balcony or patio.
Suites are housed in one of three towers: The North, the Central and the South. Room offerings vary by view, with some views full ocean front, others facing the pool, and other facing the gardens.
Rollaway beds are not available, but the hotel does provide Pack 'n Plays.
One-bedroom suites are 1,000 square feet and offer a king bedroom and a queen sleeper sofa in the living room, accommodating four guests.
Two-bedroom suites are 1,600 square feet and feature a king master and a second bedroom with either a king, a queen or two twin beds, as well as a sleeper sofa in the living room. These rooms can sleep up to six people. Some two-bedroom suites may also offer a spa Jacuzzi tub in one of its two bathrooms.
A penthouse suite, which features two bedrooms, is also available.
We stayed in a 2BR suite for a wedding, and there was plenty of room for our family of 6. The resort grounds are lovely, and the kids loved the heated pool. The service at the pool was friendly and attentive, and the drinks were fantastic. While we didn’t eat at the restaurants, the food at the wedding was catered on-site, and it was phenomenal. We had a chance to walk the paths along the beach to check out the other properties nearby, and Dolphin Bay is the best by far!
What an amazing hotel! We thoroughly enjoyed our 2 night stay here. It is situated north of Pismo beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Our apartment was HUGE and beautifully furnished and equipped with everything single thing you could want. It was spotlessly clean and linens and towels were of an excellent standard. We had a 2 bedroom apartment with 2 bathrooms and a double balcony. The sunset from this balcony was awesome. The kitchen was extremely well equipped and the local deli made it easy to cater for yourself. The restaurant menu was extensive and the food looked very good but I just loved being on the balcony eating and taking in the wonderful view. We walked along the beach and there are some steps to negotiate to access it. The pool was heated and there were plenty of beds and towels. We had a great afternoon there and Ian made sure we were well looked after . The margaritas were delicious! Thank you Ian. All staff we met were so helpful and friendly but special mention must be given to Alexia and Patrick who booked us in and checked us out, they couldn’t have been more pleasant. Also Kris the car valet who not only looked after the car and luggage but helped us with a few things in the apartment and gave us some very useful tips on where to visit and eat. Absolutely great hotel and visit. My only disappointment.......we were only there for 2 nights I wish it had been more. Thank you everyone.
Pool & Beach
The resort's infinity pool is surrounded by palm trees and cabanas and the main feature of the resort. Access to the beach below is available next door at the Cliffs' resort, which has the public beach access and stairs leading down to Shell Beach. A highlight of this beach and bay are the tidal pools that develop, and kids will love shell seeking and digging for clams.
Included in the resort's daily resort fee are rentals for bicycles to enjoy on the property and to ride to Pismo Beach. The beach cruisers are better suited for school-aged children.
Tennis & Basketball
A nearby public tennis and basketball court is available to guests of the hotel. Within steps, the hotel provides tennis racquets, tennis balls and basketballs to use on the courts.
The resort has a host of board games available in its lobby to borrow and play in-room, on the beach, at the pool, or wherever you may fancy a game.
Onsite dining is available throughout the day at the Dolphin's Lido restaurant. Serving California cuisine, the restaurant provides indoor and outdoor seating. Special events include baking classes with the restaurant chefs during the peak travel seasons of summer and winter holidays. The restaurant provides hotel room service throughout the day, as well, and includes a children's menu.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Dolphin Bay charges a $25 per night resort fee per guest. The fee covers the use of bicycles, games, DVDs, lawn games, and Wi-Fi throughout the resort.
A fitness center is available 24 hours per day.
Grills and Fire Pits
The outdoor common areas overlooking the beach offer grills and fire pits for guest use on a first-come, first-served basis.
The resort is pet-friendly with ground-floor rooms specifically available for guests staying with pets.
The Art of Smart Timing
The resort is at its fullest occupancy during July and August months, as well as spring break and Christmas holidays. In the off-season, weekends become the busiest periods for family travelers.
The nearest local airport is San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, with Pismo Beach situated three hours between both San Francisco and Los Angeles. Amtrak offers train service to the area.
You will need a car to get to Pismo Beach and its attractions, especially when staying in Shell Beach area. As a newly developed area, there are less restaurants and attractions near the hotel, and families will want a car to get into Pismo proper.
For Mom and Dad
The resort's day spa is a full spa with massages, body treatments, facials and more. All adult guests receive a 30-minute infrared sauna treatment with their stay, and mom and dad should definitely make time to sneak away for a little sauna time.