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Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 Kayak Review – What You Should Know

Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 SS Kayak Review


Welcome to my Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 Kayak review!

If you are wondering what Sun Dolphin is bringing to the table with this particular model then you are in the right place. In this review I will be going over all aspects of this particular kayak, the good and the bad. This review will be broken up into the following sections so if you just want to skip to a certain section you can click on them below, but of course I would suggest reading it all if you are seriously interested in this kayak.

Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 SS Kayak Review

Overview of the Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 Kayak

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 model is a sit-in kayak which has its ups and downs. While sit-in kayaks like this one usually offer more stability and better tracking, they are of course harder to get in and out of as you can imagine and you also have less room to move around. This particular kayak offers some decent tracking without making it too difficult to maneuver.

Overall this kayak is a fairly good bargain for the price. It is constructed of Fortiflex high density polyethylene, has plenty of storage space, offers good stability, has decent tracking, has a fairly large cockpit area to sit in, is described by pretty much everyone as comfortable with cushions on the back and bottom of the seat, and is lightweight (47 lbs)… Just to name some of the good sides.

This Aruba 12 model is something I would mostly recommend to recreational yakers who are looking for a little more control and stability than the sit-on yaks that are out there. It will do well in calmer waters but isn’t that great if you are looking to take it out and rougher areas. The reason for this is because of its straight-line keel which will do fine moving forward in calm lakes and rivers but won’t offer the tracking ability (ability to go in a straight line) that a skeg will, for example.

It’s also good kayak for those looking to do occasional fishing with the bill in fishing rod holders that it features.

As far as fit goes, no one should really be limited by the weight limit. It can hold up to 395 pounds which isn’t a problem. The problem comes with height. If you are tall, like really tall, this might not be that great of a choice as I will go over in the complaints section.


Nice Amount of Storage: One thing that’s usually nice about the Sun Dolphin kayaks is that they offer a nice amount of storage. You have the bungee strap on the front and rear of the kayak that allow you to strap down larger items. These are great if you want to bring camping gear and can hold quite a lot. In addition you also have the waterproof compartment and the P.A.C. (that I’ll be going over below) along with a little lidded storage area right in front of you that is not waterproof.

Waterproof Compartment: There are two waterproof compartments, one of which is located in front of you and is good for storing small things you don’t want to get wet such as cell phones, iPods, money, etc.

P.A.C. : This stands for Portable Accessory Carrier. And it is the black looking storage unit that is located directly behind the seat. This thing can actually be detached and you can drag it along behind the kayak while you use the spot it was then for additional storage space. The compartment inside this little carrier is also waterproof.

Thigh Pads: If you are planning on going on long kayaking adventures then this is something that should not be overlooked. On each side of the kayak located a little bit in front of the seat are black pads. These pads are to protect your thighs. They might not seem like a big deal but they will protect you from scrapes and bruises on long trips.

Built In Fishing Rod Holders: Behind the seat are two built in fishing rod holders that are flush with the top of the kayak. They are nice because they won’t get in the way if you aren’t going to be fishing but if you are there always there for easy use.

Skeel on Bottom: On the bottom of the kayak there is a straight line skeel that will help with tracking.


Thin Build, Dents Somewhat Easily – One complaint that I’ve seen multiple times is that the construction of this kayak is too thin. It’s made of a strong polyethylene plastic but is just too darn thin. Based on my research there are a fair number of people that are upset with how easily it dents. So if you’re going to be kayaking in a a shallow area with lots of rocks or something along this line it may not be that great of a choice.

On the upside, the dents are pretty easy to fix with a heat gun in a rubber mallet.

Not The Best Tracking – The tracking is good I would say but of course this all depends on where you are using it. It will do just fine in calm waters but if you get out to rough currents, or say the wind is blowing pretty hard in sideways directions, then the kayak will likely go off-track. Its still much better than sit-on Sun Dolphin models such as the Sun Dolphin Bali though.

The Solution? Only use this kayak in calmer waters.

Not a Good Fit for Tall People – If you are over say around…6’5″ or so you might have some problems with this kayak. The problems that some tall people seem to be having is that the cockpit cover where your legs go underneath is somewhat low and may scrape your shins or make it very hard to get in and out of.

The cockpit is rather large overall but it just goes down a bit too far it seems.

Waterproof Compartment Problems – I’ve read over some complaints about the waterproof compartments not being, well… Waterproof. I’ve read through more than one complaint about this so it seems that it’s kind of a hit or miss. If you get one the compartments might be sealed to be completely waterproof whereas others of the seal may be lacking in areas. So what I would do before putting your precious devices in the hands of these waterproof compartments would be to test them out. If they leak then it should be an easy fix with some sealant if you are willing to put in some work.

Pros vs Cons

A look at this kayaks pros and cons side by side…


  • Like all Sun Dophin kayaks, this kayak is on the lower side when you look at prices
  • Tracks well in calm waters
  • Good stability which you would expect with a sit-in kayak like this
  • Comfortable, has a seat cushion on the back and bottom
  • Plenty of storage space for all your traveling needs
  • Fishing capable in case you want to go on a little fishing trip


  • Think build that can dent easily
  • Not good for rough waters or high winds. You will have difficulty controlling the yak
  • Not a great fit for tall people
  • Waterproof containers could be made better



Is It Worth The Price?

The answer to this question really depends on your situation and what you are looking for. If you are looking for recreational kayak that has a good job on calmer waters, is comfortable, has a fair amount of storage space, etc. then this could be a good fit for you. It’s a good affordable entry-level kayak that offers a little more when it comes to control, stability, and tracking than the sit-on Sun Dolphin kayaks out there.

Something else that is nice to see is that Sun Dolphin gives buyers a lifetime warranty on all of their kayaks. Now of course this doesn’t mean you can take it off a waterfall onto jagged rocks below and expect to get your money back, but if anything breaks or goes wrong with it when using it reasonably you will be able to.

If you have any questions about this particular kayak that I did not cover in this review, you can leave them below and I’ll get back to you when time permits 🙂 Also if you have your own review of this product I would appreciate it if you left it below to help out other readers if you have any additional points you would like to make.

About the Author

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I hope you found this article helpful! I'm Kyle, the creator of this site, which is probably pretty obvious after seeing the name. Like most, I've had my fair share of difficulties and a pretty bumpy road while trying to find success online, which is why I put togetherthis guide so that others can get started right the first time around.

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