With amazing shades of blue waters, palms at every pathway turn, mountains that rival the tropics and dolphins most everywhere you look, you could blink and think you’re in Hawaii. Yet, Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa is just three hours north of Los Angeles. So if Hawaii is on your radar, yet you don’t have the time or extensive travel budget to get there, consider the luxurious Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa.
It’s a place of escapism with a margarita by the pool or walk to the beach. The resort has everything you could want without going overboard on a large scale. It’s a more personal and private getaway that’s perfect for a couple’s weekend or relaxing family vacation.
Located in Shell Beach along California’s central coast (and just outside Pismo Beach), Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa is the only AAA Four-Diamond Rated Resort in the area, and it’s the only all-suite luxury resort from Santa Barbara to Monterey.
It’s not by coincidence that the resort is compared to a tropical escape, the powers that be at Dolphin Bay previously worked in Hualalai, Hawaii (at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa and the Four Seasons Resort). That said, the vision was to design Dolphin Bay to be akin to the fabulous Hawaiian resorts that are destinations in and of themselves. The master plan worked, as the resort indeed rewards with casual ease, immense natural beauty and little need to leave the property.
Situated high on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the resort boasts a stunning walking path to the beach and Lookout Point just off the property with vibrant blooming shades of bougainvillea and effortless grasses blowing in the breeze. As far as views from your room, it’s quite amazing to sit and count all the dolphins dancing in the waters just beyond your balcony.
Accommodations are indulgent at the resort, which was originally designed for ownership. All 63 bedroom suites feature full gourmet kitchens and more room than you know what to do with. The interior design elements are sophisticated yet comfortable and neutral yet modern and stylish.
While you can definitely cook in the full suite kitchens, you may opt to leave the culinary art to Lido Restaurant at the resort. Fine dining includes dinner choices from their refreshing Bibb Lettuce and Field Greens Salads to a variety of flatbreads to Burrata Ravioli with roasted heirloom tomatoes and more. The setting is elegant and there are events such as Wine Tastings Tuesdays on the patio, as well as a Sunset Happy Hour Monday through Friday. Lido Restaurant is also known for their champagne brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
To unwind at your leisure, you’ll of course want to visit the infinity swimming pool and spa Jacuzzi. Both are a lovely temperature to wash away your worries. La Bonne Vie Spa is also an effortless retreat to stop at during a stay. Their Essentials Facial ($110) is particularly cleansing, relaxing and transforming. A nourishing masque containing elements of linseed, wheat germ and sunflower is used to purify the skin. The boutique spa calms and soothes with the intimate space.
Should you choose to venture to town, there are several local piers in the area you might opt to check out. Pismo Beach Pier has classic style, a wide-open wooden pier with diamond cutouts, and you might even spy some chill pelicans to pet. If you go, pair the outing with an evening at Giuseppe’s Restaurant on Price Street—it’s an Italian delight.
There is also Avila Beach Pier that offers quaint candy stores and coffee shops, as well as bars and restaurants. Other outings not too far away from the resort include San Luis Obispo County boutique wineries, Hearst Castle, golfing and antique shops.
If you’re up for a lush island-like resort escape, Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa is a uniquely worthy choice. Right now, they’re offering September-December weekday rates starting at $335, a 4th-night free promotion through October 31st, as well as a promotion to buy one night and get the second night half off from November-February.
Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa
2727 Shell Beach Road
Shell Beach, CA 93449