Recreational Kayak Review: Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak is a discount-priced rec boat that’s made in the USA and conveniently available at big-box stores. Check out the Aruba 10 if you’re looking for a small, lightweight, beginner-friendly kayak that won’t break the bank.

Our Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 review provides all the details on this compact, easy to paddle kayak with minimal outfitting.

On the water with Sun Dolphin’s Aruba 10

Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Specs
Length: 9’7” / 2.92 m
Width: 29” / 74 cm
Cockpit: 38.5” × 18.5” /
98 cm × 47 cm
Weight: 40 lbs / 18 kg
Capacity: 250 lbs / 113 kg
MSRP: $200–300

Performance

The paddling performance of the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak is similar to other small rec boats, with modest speed and outstanding maneuverability and stability. Don’t expect to win any races in this 10-foot, pumpkinseed-shaped kayak.

However, that compact size means the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak will turn on a dime; this great turning ability makes the Aruba 10 a great choice for slow-moving river paddling and exploring all the nooks and crannies of sheltered shorelines. The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 weight limit is 250 pounds.

Market and demographics

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak is clearly best for occasional paddlers and those looking for an introduction to kayaking at a reasonable price. The Aruba 10, and other recreational boats, are ideal for paddling on flatwater, smooth-flowing rivers and cottage lakes. Using the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 as a fishing kayak is another great option, especially if you’re an angler on a tight budget looking for an easy way to access out-of-the-way fishing holes.

At this price point don’t expect all the bells and whistles of a premium angling kayak, but the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 performs admirably and can be easily modified with accessories and custom DIY upgrades to improve its performance and comfort.

Comfort

Perhaps the greatest downside of the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak is its bare-bones outfitting, which some testers identified as lacking comfort. The seat and thigh supports feature minimal padding (handy users can add custom closed-cell foam pads to both areas using a contact adhesive) and some reviewers indicated that the foot rests were hard to reach.

The discontinued Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS kayak was essentially the same boat but with enhanced comfort features. If out-of-the-box comfort is important, check out the longer Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 SS kayak.

About the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

Design

Design features and details

The first thing you notice when paddling the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak is a reassuring sense of stability, owing to its flat bottom. Reasonably sharp bow and stern entry lines allow the Aruba 10 to slice through the water with minimal noise, making it a good choice for observing wildlife on sheltered water.

The symmetrical design allows it to handle predictably for beginners. The large cockpit is easy to enter and exit for most paddlers; the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak strikes a good balance between achieving the water-shedding security of a decked kayak, without feeling confining for first-time paddlers.

Material and construction

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak is made in the USA of Fortiflex high-density polyethylene, a durable plastic material that’s highly resistant to impacts, abrasion and UV damage. This type of rotomolded plastic is perfect for those looking for a no-maintenance kayak that can be left outdoors during the paddling season.

The material flexes to absorb impacts and regains its shape after hard hits. With such great durability you may wonder how much does a Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak weigh? The specs indicate a very reasonable 40 pounds, making it a good choice for car-topping.

Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak accessories and outfitting

The main advantage of a sit-inside kayak like the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 compared to a sit-on-top kayak is the ability to add a sprayskirt for greater paddling comfort in cool conditions. A Sun Dolphin kayak Aruba 10 sprayskirt is available from Extent Paddle Gear and other accessory manufacturers. A nylon sprayskirt offers shelter from the sun, rain, cold weather and spray, yet also remains comfortable in warm conditions and is safe and easy to enter and exit.

A similar accessory is the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak cockpit cover, which keeps moisture and creepy-crawlies out of the cockpit when your kayak is in transportation or storage.

Common replacement parts, such as the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 drain plug, are available from the manufacturer. There are many easy upgrade options when it comes to installing a seat cushion, ranging from simple DIY self-adhesive kayak seat pads to using a removable piece of closed-cell foam, such as a garden kneeling mat.

Be sure to test any modifications in a controlled setting in case adding padding to the seat changes the center of balance and stability of your kayak. The following section covers popular Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak modifications.

Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 ft kayak modifications

Implementing some quick and easy modifications will improve your paddling experience on the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10. Kayak anglers love to customize their rides and the basic  Aruba 10 offers a blank canvas to design your perfect fishing kayak. Popular (and practical) Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 fishing mods include installing aftermarket rod holders and upgrading the standard deck bungees to improve on-deck storage.

A sit-inside kayak like the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 offers less deck space for fishing mods than a comparable-length sit-on-top, but the large cockpit provides space to install small tackle holders, drink holders and other convenient accessories.

Another great modification is a Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 seat upgrade. Your easiest solution to add padding to the basic plastic seat is to cut and shape a custom cushion from closed-cell foam, which can be removed from the kayak. Depending on your body type, a simple foam gardening pad is another good seat upgrade. You may also use contact adhesive to glue the foam into the seat, but be aware that this may void the kayak’s warranty.

Check out paddlesport retailers for other seat upgrades, such as self-adhesive pads and aftermarket back-support bands.

Wear A Life Jacket
  • Everyone, even strong swimmers, needs to wear a life jacket at all times when on the water. It is extremely difficult to put a life jacket on once you fall into the water. Even a light wind can blow any paddlecraft away from you, faster than you can swim.
  • Buy (and wear) a comfortable Type 3 or S life jacket specifically designed for paddlesports.

Warranty

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 comes with a limited lifetime warranty for the original owner that covers manufacturing defects. You must register your new Aruba 10 kayak with the manufacturer online within 30 days of purchase to validate the warranty.

Storage

Dry storage is a key attribute of sit-inside kayaks like the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak. The Aruba 10 features a stern storage compartment that affords plenty of room for day gear and a picnic lunch. Note that the hatch is not separated from the rest of the hull by a bulkhead (or interior wall) and is therefore not watertight. Be sure to pack your gear in sturdy dry bags to protect it from any water that may trickle into the storage area from the kayak’s cockpit.

How it compares

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 isn’t your only option when it comes to buying a beginner kayak. There’s plenty of competition in the area of recreational kayaks. Here’s how the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 compares with other popular boats.

  • Pelican Trailblazer 100 NXT kayak vs Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

    The Pelican Trailblazer 100 NXT kayak is available exclusively in the United States. It features similar specs to the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak, with a slightly longer overall length and one inch narrower. Unlike the Aruba 10, the Trailblazer 100 NXT has an open storage area on the back deck (compared to the Sun Dolphin’s hatch-covered compartment).

    The Pelican Trailblazer 100 NXT is about double the price and comes with more comfortable outfitting, including an ergonomic padded seat. Choose the Trailblazer 100 NXT over the Aruba 10 if you are serious about spending time on the water and want a kayak with all-day comfort.

  • Pelican Argo 100 vs Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

    The Pelican Argo 100 is another kayak with specifications similar to the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10. The Argo 100 has the same overall dimensions as the Pelican Trailblazer 100 NXT, with a weight limit of 275 pounds (compared to the Aruba 10’s weight limit of 250 pounds). The Argo 100 boasts comfortable seating, hatch-covered storage in the bow and an open storage well in the stern. It’s only available in U.S. stores.

  • Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 vs Phoenix

    If you’re looking for a bit more length (and glide while paddling) and a more comfortable seat, consider the Sun Dolphin Phoenix. This recreational kayak measures 10 feet, four inches long and includes better outfitting than the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10. It’s also slightly wider at 32 inches and has a rubber hatch for storage in the stern of the boat. The flat bottom and hard-chine design (“chines” describe the area where the sides of the kayak meet the bottom) makes it maneuverable yet also stable.

  • Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 vs Aruba 10 SS

    The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 SS is the upscale version of the base model Aruba 10. Key additions include a removable stern deck pod that provides dry storage and a more supportive back rest. Among a few other creature comforts you’ll also find an electronics console on the front deck. The Aruba 10 SS weighs in at 44 pounds, compared to the 40-pound Aruba 10 kayak.

  • Sun Dolphin Trek vs Aruba 10

    The Sun Dolphin Trek has the exact same specifications, design features and paddling performance as the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10, only it is available at a different array of big-box retailers in the United States.

  • Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 vs Pelican Summit 100

    The Pelican Summit 100 is another good choice for a budget-priced, entry-level recreational kayak. Like the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10, it’s easy to enter and exit and extremely stable, meant for paddling in calm, sheltered-water areas. The Summit 100 has an open stern deck storage well and benefits from Pelican’s twin-arched hull, which makes it more efficient to paddle (by reducing drag) and lighter weight at 36 pounds.

    The more advanced design and upgraded outfitting mean the Pelican Summit 100 is considerably more expensive than the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10. Choose the Summit 100 if you are serious about spending time on the water and want a kayak with all-day comfort.

  • Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 vs Lifetime Lancer

    Another kayak comparable to the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 is the Lifetime Lancer. The boats’ specs are nearly identical, with the Lifetime Lancer affording space for a slightly larger paddler (with a maximum capacity of 275 pounds). Check out the Lifetime Lancer if you’re looking for upgraded outfitting and comfort features, including a nicely padded seat, right out of the box.

  • Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 vs 12

    In general, a longer kayak will glide better than a shorter one—so check out the Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 kayak if you’re looking for a bit more efficiency on the water. Of course, all things being equal, a 12-foot kayak like the Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 has greater carrying capacity: in this case, a weight limit of 395 pounds (versus 250 pounds for the Aruba 10).

    The Sun Dolphin Aruba 12 is simply a more advanced kayak than the Aruba 10, with enough space to pack gear and food for an overnight trip and better overall paddling performance and upgraded outfitting. Check it out if you plan to stick with kayaking and go beyond short outings at the beach.

Stay Clear Of All Other Vessels
  • Know the “Rules of the Road” Navigation Rules that govern all boat traffic and stay out of the way of all other vessels.
  • Never assume that power boaters can see you. Avoid high-traffic areas whenever possible. Proceed with caution when you can’t avoid paddling near boats. Dress for visibility.
  • Sun Dolphin Aruba 8 vs 10

    At 27 pounds, you’re hard pressed to find a lighter sit-inside kayak than the Sun Dolphin Aruba 8. This potato-shaped kayak is ultra stable and maneuverable—even easier to turn than the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10. More depth and width means it also has a slightly higher weight limit. However, at eight feet in length, the 8 is slower than the Aruba 10 and does not come with a rear storage compartment.

Compare to Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

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Pelican

Trailblazer 100 NXT

Kayaks: Aruba 12 ss by Sun Dolphin - Image 2987
Sun Dolphin

Aruba 12 ss

Where to buy Sun Dolphin Aruba 10

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak is widely distributed at big box stores and online retail outlets across North America. The following search terms will help you find a kayak at a great price: Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak Walmart; Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Amazon; and Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Dunham’s Sports.

In Canada, you can buy a new Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayak at Canadian Tire. Of course, such wide distribution means used Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 kayaks are abundant on platforms like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji.

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Sun Dolphin

Aruba 10

The Sun Dolphin® Aruba 10 Sit-In Kayak is great for river and lake trips. This great recreational kayak features a paddle holder, adjustable foot braces, adjustable padded seat and protective thigh pads to keep you comfortable while you’re out on the water. Storage compartment gives you plenty of room to store all your gear, while durable Fortiflex® material keeps your kayak lasting for years to come.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Cheap, entry-level boat that will allow you to paddle gentle rivers and quiet lakes
  • Great stability
  • Large cockpit that’s easy to enter and exit
  • Compact hull that beginners will find comfortable to handle on the water
  • Solid choice for anglers with a tight budget

Cons

  • Basic seat that lacks padding
  • No thigh supports
  • No foot rests

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Carry A Waterproof VHF Radio, Use Your Phone Only As A Backup
  • A handheld VHF marine band radio allows you to communicate with the Coast Guard and other boat traffic. Use Channel 16 only for hailing and emergencies. The radio should be waterproof, because it is virtually certain to get wet.
  • A cell phone, even if in a waterproof case or sealable bag, might not work, so don’t rely on it as the primary means of emergency communication.

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