Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-In Kayak Review

Last Updated: 6th April 2017


The Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-In is designed as an entry level river kayak for those looking to get a grasp of the sport. Constructed using rotofold plastic techniques, from rugged UV-stabilized fortiflex high density polyethylene, this sit-in aims to find the balance between versatility and style.

Available in an array of colors ranging from blue, to red, to green, to yellow, safety is not compromised as high visibility is maintained.

As a plastic kayak, tracking is much improved on than in inflatable kayaks. In a similar price range, you may be tempted by an inflatable, due to the convenience and portability that they offer.

However, as the shell of the Aruba is modified polyethylene, structural support and strength come hand in hand, will remaining lightweight. In addition to this, nifty extendable carry handles come as standard, making transport from the car to the waters edge simple and effective.

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Designed for use on rivers and lakes, this kayak goes above and beyond it’s duty, because of the built in spray deflectors. The spray deflectors enable you to take the kayak into fast river and rapid conditions without running the risk of taking on masses of water that you get with an inflatable kayak.

The large cockpit makes getting in and out easy, but once in, the area water is available to fill is fairly limited.

The cockpit offers considerably comfort, with ample leg room in the 10’ model, and comes equipped with foot braces to help get the most power from your paddle.

Specifications: Sun Dolphin Aruba

Dimensions
Overall Length10ft (3.05m)
Overall Width2' 6" (76cm)
Weight40 lb (18kg)
Capacity
Passengers1
Maximum Weight250 lb (113 kg)
Compliance
Certified by the National Marine Manufacturers Association using ABYC standards.

Positives for the Sun Dolphin Aruba

The Aruba is without a doubt a great starting point for anyone looking to get into river kayaking. It’s comfortable hull and lightweight exterior give the level of maneuverability you’d expect from something in a much higher price range.

It’s because of this maneuverability that the kayak can be used for more than one discipline. Owners have reported more than a few successful trips down fast rivers and rapids rather than just the recommended calm cruising on slow rivers and lakes.

The lightweight chassis is deceptively strong, being able to carry upwards of 300lbs, and with DIY savvy owner, the Aruba is very customizable.

Consumers have managed to cut away the back region of the upper surface, creating an excellent storage space. With easily attachable rod holders, you can transform this kayak into a more than capable fishing vessel.

Where it is relatively stable anyway, outriggers can de fastened to the side to give it that extra anchorage when trying to reel in your catch.

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What should also get a special mention, is the level of comfort the Aruba has. A lot of sit in kayaks tend to be awkward to get in and out of, but you have no such problem in the Aruba. The inside is surprisingly spacious, and the adjustable seats and leg straps enable you to adjust the interior to suit your needs.

The anchorage the leg straps provide enables you to generate real power in your stroke, opening up the possibility of racing the Aruba.

Safety is also taken into account with the design of the Aruba. Firstly in the color scheme, with bright contrasting colors making the vessel easy to spot by other river uses.

This reduces the chance of collision, which is not uncommon in kayakers due to the low profile and quiet movement. Also, with the easy to exit cockpit, on the rare occasion you may capsize, there is no chance of getting trapped inside, you’ll just be able to slide out unhindered.

Sun Dolphin Aruba Negatives

As an entry-level plastic kayak, the Aruba ticks the majority of the boxes, and looks to be a solid choice for a beginner. However, there are a few areas where it is leaves the consumer wanting.

To begin with, the kayak comes as a singular unit, so any oars, add-ons or sports accessories will need to be bought separately. Not such a bad thing when you consider the Aruba can be picked up for around $200, but you can grab an inflatable bundle with everything included for less than the Aruba asking price.

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Also, there have been some questions raised about its buoyancy. Plastic is naturally quite buoyant, and extra buoyancy is provided with Styrofoam blocks in the rear.

Owners have said that adding additional blocks greatly improves the buoyancy and improves the performance of the kayak, so this problem can be fixed, but you have to wonder why it wasn’t fixed in manufacturing.

Summary – Should you buy the Sun Dolphin Aruba?

The Aruba Sit-In Kayak from Sun Dolphin, is definitely great value for money. It can serve you well as you progress from beginner to intermediate levels as it is at home on many different water bodies.

However, it is not specialized for one type, where it’s usable on many kinds of water, it doesn’t particularly excel on any.

Therefore, if you’re looking for something for a particular kind of use, you may be better off looking elsewhere. Having said that, if you’re a beginner and looking to get a taste of what kayaking is all about, the Aruba is a great place to start.

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Amazon currently have a starting price of $249.99, which will net you a 10’ model, rather than the 12’ foot that is also available. The general consensus among owners, is that the Aruba is a great buy at anything less than $200, but if you’re looking above that, you can get more advanced features elsewhere.

It’s worth checking around sports stores, and shopping malls, as it’s been reported that you can pick up an Aruba for around $150, and you’ll dodge the outrageous $130 shipping fee that online retailers seem to be employing.

To conclude, if you’re a beginner, and not fussed about advanced features, just looking for something to get you out on the water, then look no further than the Aruba. It’s lightweight but sturdy design will serve you well for many years.

If however, you’re looking for specialization, it may be worth widening your search to find something a little more adapted to what your looking to achieve.

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