Our plan for visiting Palau included four nights and three full days on Peleliu, where a significant amphibious assault was conducted by the First Marine Division during the Second World War; and me being a retired Marine, I have an interest in such things.
Our choice of lodging for Peleliu was simplified by the small number of options; and based upon cost, customer reviews, and responsiveness to our inquiries. We counted five lodging options during our internet search. Based upon customer reviews, we necked these down to either the Storyboard Resort or the Dolphin Bay Resort. While the Dolphin Bay Resort had a higher daily room rate, meals were included, which was not the case with the Storyboard Resort (there aren’t restaurant options on Peleliu, making it necessary to eat at your place of lodging). The Dolphin Bay Resort also quoted us a lesser fee for boat transportation between Koror and Peleliu. When we added everything up, the costs of the two facilities were about the same. This pushed us toward the Dolphin Bay Resort, which had somewhat-better customer reviews and was more responsiveness to our e-mails. After being on the island, staying at the Dolphin Bay Resort, and seeing the other options from the road, we are confident that our decision was correct.
Securing a reservation involved an e-mail to the resort requesting our desired dates, a follow-up phone call, sending a deposit in the form of a personal check, and following-up again with a phone call to confirm receipt of the deposit. While the Dolphin Bay Resort was more responsive than the Storyboard Resort, that does not mean that our communications were without challenge. The lady who operates the Dolphin Bay Resort has three e-mail addresses, any one of which may be the best to use at a given time; and internet connectivity on the island is reportedly not the world’s most reliable. The resort always answered our phone calls, but the person on the other line was not always able to help with our questions; however, someone always did get back to us with an answer in the form of an e-mail. As to the deposit, Dolphin Bay Resort does not — and no one on Peleliu does, to our knowledge — accept credit cards, which is the reason for having to send a personal check. It took about six weeks for the resort to receive the deposit.
The only way to get to and from Peleliu is by boat, and there are three boat options from which to choose. First is a private boat, for which the resort quoted us a one-way cost of US $600. The second is tagging-along with a tour boat heading from Koror to Peleliu, for which the resort quoted us a cost of $60 each person, each way. The final option is use of the public inter-island boat, at a cost of US $15 each person, each way (plus an additional dollar or two for each piece of luggage).
The public inter-island boat does not run between each destination every day; and on the day we were headed to Peleliu, it was not available. So, we decided on option number two: the resort-arranged seats on a Peleliu-bound boat operated by a tour company. The boat left Koror at 9:00am, loaded with us and fifteen Japanese tourists on a Peleliu land tour. The boat landed at Peleliu’s north dock at 10:00am, where we waited a few minutes for the resort’s shuttle van to pick us up.
At the resort, we were greeted by the lady who owns and operates the establishment. She explained how the meals and charges operate, asked about activities we planned, and provided us an accounting of the balance-due for our reservation and boat transportation. Dolphin Bay Resort requires you to pay the balance of your reservation upon arrival, in cash or traveller’s checks. Again, credit cards are not accepted — everything is a cash transaction, in US dollars. After all this was done, she escorted us to our bungalow, where our bags were waiting.
The property has seven stand-alone bungalows, all of the same design, sitting side-by-side in a single row. On one end of the row is the open-walled restaurant and bar (Bungalow 7 is farthest from the restaurant and bar; Bungalow 1 is closest). The grounds are well-maintained, and landscaped with native plants and trees. Behind the row of bungalows, on the landward side, are raked trails connecting the bungalows, the office and lobby, and the bar and restaurant. In front of the bungalows, to seaward, the grounds are terraced. On the upper terrace are the bungalows and a grass lawn. On the lower terrace are a raked sand area, wooden lounge chairs, hammocks, and outdoor showers; all separated from the water by a low seawall. There is no beach, as the bottom of the lagoon in this area is covered with some sort of seaweed or seagrass, which produces a mild rotting-seaweed smell at low tide.
Our bungalow was of wood construction, with a high ceiling and exposed beams, a main room, a bathroom, and a balcony. The main room contained a queen bed, a table with two chairs, an armoire, a small refrigerator functioning as a mini-bar, a hot water pot with coffee and tea service, a small air conditioning unit mounted through a wall, and a ceiling fan The bathroom contained a large, tiled shower with on-demand water heater; a sink mounted in a cabinet; and a Western-style toilet. The flooring of the main room was wood; in the bathroom it was tile. The wood balcony was on the seaward side of the bungalow; it had an ocean view, a table, two chairs, and steps down to the grass lawn. Overall, the bungalow was nicely-made, well-maintained, and clean.
Two areas for improvement were the bed and the air conditioning unit. The mattress was a very basic box-spring, and not particularly comfortable. The air conditioning unit was noisy to the point that it was difficult to sleep with it on.
There was no television or telephone in the bungalow; which we don’t mind, but others might. There was also no internet access in the bungalow. Wireless internet access is available in the open-air lobby, and requires the purchase of a two- or four-hour access card.
The resort can arrange various activities for its guests. It has its own diving operation for both SCUBA and snorkeling trips. It also offers land tours of Peleliu, and trips to Anguar and Jellyfish Lake. There are kayaks available for use in the waters near the resort, at no charge. We rented bicycles for a cost of $5 each for a half-day. The bicycles were in pretty sad shape, but they functioned well enough to get us around.
The restaurant produced some pretty good food, and was accommodating to our vegan diets and our schedule. An example vegan-friendly dinner consisted of pumpkin soup, noodles, rice, and fried banana rolls. They prepared a lunch to-go for our daily bicycle trips, consisting of rice, a side dish of breaded and fried vegetable or pumpkin, and a main dish of vegetables or pasta.
All of the resort’s staff was attentive, helpful, and polite throughout our stay.
When we left Peleliu, we used the public inter-island boat. It was much more enjoyable than the tour company boat, and much less expensive. This is the way we will get to and from Peleliu in the future, even if it means modifying our schedule to match the boat’s.
Overall, we were pleased with the Dolphin Bay Resort. When we return to Peleliu, this is where we will stay, and it is the place we will recommend to others.
One bit of warning, though: Going to Palau, then to Peleliu, and staying at the resort can have a feel of being constantly nickeled-and-dimed. There’s a government fee for going to the Rock Islands, an additional fee if you go to Jellyfish Lake, and a departure tax and “green fee” when you leave Palau. There’s a cost for getting to and from Peleliu, a State fee for traveling around Peleliu, and a State fee for diving or snorkeling off Peleliu. Then, at the resort, your drinks are not included with the prepaid meals — not even the 500ml bottle of water beside your plate, for which you will pay US $2.50; and you have to buy a card for internet access. Be aware of this, wrap your mind around it before you go, and take plenty of cash.