Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 Review

After buying a small beginners kayak with limited storage, I decided to invest in one that was a little longer with more room to store belongings, so I could stay out on the water longer.  I read a Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 review that pointed me in the direction of an affordable yet good quality kayak that meets my needs.

Sun Dolphin Aruba 12$$
Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS$
Sun Dolphin Excursion 12 SS Kayak $$
Sun Dolphin Bali 12 SS Kayak $

Things to Consider Before Buying a Kayak

Before you go out and buy any kayak, you need to consider several important factors, such as weight, cargo options, and a sit-in vs. sit-on-top style.


Since you might find that there isn’t a kayak launch at every body of water you visit, you’ll likely end up having to carry your kayak quite a bit.  Even the strongest kayaker will prefer a lighter kayak to make transporting it easier.  However, you won’t want to compromise the weight capacity just for a lighter kayak.

Cargo Space

If you plan on spending several hours on the lake like me, you’re going to be interested in buying a kayak with plenty of good storage.  By good, I mean that you will want to make sure you have at least one well-sealed hatch to keep your belongings dry in the very likely event that your kayak takes on some water.

Sit-in vs. Sit-on-top

There are two styles of kayaks to choose from: sit-in vs. sit-on-top.  Sit-in kayaks are typically more efficient, which means can put in less paddling effort.  They are also known to have secondary stability, which is great if you plan on spending time in rough water conditions, such as rapids.

Sit-on-top kayaks, on the other hand, have more initial stability which is more suitable for smooth water conditions.  Beginners often prefer this style over the sit-in kayaks because they can’t sink, and they are much easier to re-enter if you end up in the water.

Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 Review

 Sun Dolphin Aruba 12The Aruba 12 kayak is an extremely affordable option for all people getting started in kayak fishing or someone looking for a kayak with more storage and options.  The kayak comes with fishing rod holders, a storage compartment, shock cord deck rigging, and a molded-in paddle holder.  The Sun Dolphin 12 measures at 12 feet in length, 29.5 inches across, and weighs just 47 pounds, while being able to hold up to 395 pounds in weight.

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 sit in kayak is definitely a more basic model, so you’ll find find that it is fairly affordable.  It would be great for any person just dipping their toe into the pool of fishing from a kayak or anyone in need of a larger kayak, whether that’s for a higher weight capacity or more storage space.  If you are a very serious angler, or you are looking for a more lightweight option, you will want to continue your search beyond the Aruba 12 SS.


  • Affordable
  • High weight capacity
  • Adequate storage


  • Heavy
  • Unstable for standing
  • Made from lower quality materials

Features and Benefits

Though the Sun Dolphin Aruba 12-Foot sit in kayak is designed as a budget option, it still has several features that make it a great kayak, and many other Sun Dolphin Aruba Kayak reviews will agree.

Flush Mount Fishing Rod Holders

Anglers will be most interested in the flush mount fishing rod holders that Sun Dolphin includes on the Aruba 12 SS.  As the name indicates, the rod holder is built so that it does not stick out from the kayak, which makes for a sleeker and more manageable kayak build.  Since this kayak comes with this option, you will save yourself from having to make more modifications to the kayak for fishing purposes.  There are plenty of accessories and attachments to add to kayaks, so it is nice to have one less thing to buy separately.

Storage Compartment

For anyone planning on spending a lot of time on the water, adequate storage is very important.  The Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 SS features two storage compartments.  One is a smaller compartment towards the bow of the kayak, and the other is a Portable Accessory Carrier located on the stern of the boat under some shock cord deck rigging.  Both of these storage compartments allow you to stow any fishing gear, cell phones, radios, or other belongings that you don’t want to worry about falling into the water.

Shock Cord Deck Rigging

For the price of this kayak, the onboard storage of the Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 is decent.  Along with the storage compartments, Sun Dolphin also added shock cord deck rigging to the bow and stern of the kayak.  The cords on the front are excellent for holding anything like water bottles, gear pouches, or backpacks.  You will find that the shock cord deck rigging directly behind the seat covers the storage compartment, but it is good for storing anything you might not need frequent access to.  It can even help hold additional fishing gear, paddles, or rods.

Molded Paddle Holder

Any kayaker will tell you how frustrating it can be to lose your paddles, especially as a beginner.  Fortunately, the Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 comes with a paddle holder molded in, so you have one less thing to worry about when learning the ropes of kayaking.  Though it is a relatively basic feature, it will make your life much easier by preventing you from chasing lose paddles.  Even more advanced kayakers will appreciate this feature when they are trying to fish because it will allow you to get your paddles out of the way while you are casting and hopefully reeling in a nice catch.

These are just some of the most notable features you will find on the Aruba 12 kayak, but there are several other features you might be interested in learning more about. To see some of these features and others in action, you can watch the video below.


Before you go out and buy a Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 SS, there are other kayaks you may want to look into further.

Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS

Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SSThe Aruba 10 SS is very similar to the Aruba 12 SS, but as its name suggests, it is only 10 feet in length.  It also only holds up to 280 pounds.  It lacks all of the fishing extras, but it comes with a unique feature of its own, a hands free electronics console. Since it doesn’t have all the extras of the 12 SS, you will find that this option is more affordable than the 12 SS.

This option is for someone looking for less storage and length in their kayak, perhaps to improve maneuverability.  If you are looking for a longer kayak with more storage, the Aruba 12 SS is the better option.

Similarities to Aruba 12 SS
  • Close in weight
  • Portable Accessory Carrier
  • Shock cord deck rigging


Sun Dolphin Excursion 12 SS Kayak

Sun Dolphin Excursion 12 SS KayakThe Sun Dolphin Excursion 12 SS  is a sit in kayak designed specifically for fishing. It comes with an extra flush mount and a swivel fishing rod holder.  It also comes in olive and sand colors that blend in better with fishing spots.

This is a great option for anyone who is planning on using their kayak fishing more often than recreation. If you are less concerned with all the fishing extras, I recommend you stick with the Aruba 12 SS.

Similarities to Aruba 12 SS
  • Weight
  • Weight capacity
  • Length
  • Price


Sun Dolphin Bali 12 SS Kayak

Sun Dolphin Bali 12 SS KayakThe Sun Dolphin Bali 12 SS is Sun Dolphin’s sit-on-top version of the Aruba 12 SS.  Though they are similar, it doesn’t have any of the fishing extras.  Instead it has more features you would expect from a sit-on-top kayak, such as adjustable foot braces and a large, open cockpit. It is also slightly more expensive than the Aruba 12 SS.

If you are a beginner, you will probably prefer this sit-on-top kayak, which is unsinkable and easier to enter.  If you’re more experienced and prefer a sit-in kayak, the Aruba 12 SS is still your better option.

Similarities to Aruba 12 SS
  • Length
  • Weight
  • Weight Capacity


Check Out the Aruba 12 SS

After you buy an Aruba 12 SS, you will be able to spend more time on the water, fish, and get more speed. This budget-friendly kayak will provide you with all the storage space you need to have a great kayaking experience.  With all of the great features that Sun Dolphin adds to this sit-in kayak, you will be happy you decided on this kayak.