A great jungle vibe
Southern end of Thong Nai Pan Yai, Ko Pha Ngan T: (086) 770 4259
Set up by Australian Kim and Thai Giet many years ago, Dolphin was once the place to stay on Thong Nai Pan Yai with a very cool vibe and excellent hosts. Sadly however, they lost control of Dolphin some years ago, and while the current incarnation is still good, it isn't as great as it once was.
Rooms come in three main styles – older fan-cooled wooden bungalows and two types of larger, air-con chalets. All are hidden away in Dolphin's trademark lush gardens that run back from the beach and which really work well to keep the bungalows hidden away with a junglish feel. Laying in your hammock, hidden away in their maze of garden pathways, through a monsoon rainstorm can be very memorable.
The fan-cooled bungalows are standard Ko Pha Ngan fare, with a couple of screened windows, some simple shelving, a tiled bathroom and a standard deck with hammock waiting for you. Beds are a bit long in the tooth, but the mosquito nets are new (and recommended if you are in a fan room). If it fits with your budget, the larger air-con rooms, especially the deluxe rooms, are worth the extra money for the extra space, airy feel and rattan hammocks, though none have a water or beach view.
The restaurant is beachside, with a couple of salas littered with cushions and low tables looking out from between the palms over more table settings on the beach. Food is good and reasonably priced for this part of the island with the evening seafood BBQ here worth a mention. There is also a heady drinks list. We wish they opened for breakfast a bit earlier.
Staff can be a bit abrupt but are inoffensive and even if you're not staying at Dolphin, make the effort to wander down for an afternoon drink and enjoy the tunes and relaxed convivial atmosphere. For years Dolphin was walk-in only but they've gone and got themselves an email address which is useful for high season reservations (recommended).
Overall, Dolphin remains a solid spot, but we miss the old management (you can find Kim and Giet at Siam House, back off the beach if you want to say hi!). If you're looking for somewhere similar but a bit more spacious, Longtail, just down the beach from here, is an excellent choice.
By Stuart McDonald
Last updated on 24th October, 2016.