With so many options available on the market these days, it can be hard to find the right kayak. If this is your first kayak then you also might not want to spend a great deal on it.
Luckily, there are a few specific rule-of-thumb features that are a must for your first kayak to use as your main criteria for your first purchase. In this regard, one of the best beginner kayaks is the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Kayak. We have broken its various features down below.
So, for those looking for a kayak that will handle well in the water, without breaking your bank account, read on and let our Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Review help you decide if this is the best kayak for you.
First, we will cover what you are getting when you buy this kayak. The Aruba 10 by Sun Dolphin is a 115 inch long sit-inside style kayak. It’s made in America, so you can trust the quality.
Perfect on rivers and lakes…
Aruba 10 may not be a top-of-the-line model, but it’s a great kayak to learn with. Bump around while you learn without the worry of damaging an expensive kayak. It possesses a few great features and we think this is one of the best kayaks for rivers and lakes.
Oh, and it is available in multiple colors…
- Weight: 40 lb. (18 kg)
- Length: 115 in. (292 cm)
- Width: 29 in. (74 cm)
- Height: 14 in. (41 cm)
- Maximum Weight Capacity: 250 lb. (113 kg)
- Hull Material: High-Density Polyethylene
- Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty
Top Features Of The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 Kayak
One of the first aspects any beginner kayaker should check is stability.
Sit-inside style kayaks tend to be less forgiving than the sit-on-top kayaks. Having said that, this option provides more stability than many sit-inside kayaks we’ve seen which makes it one of the best entry-level kayaks on the market.
Intelligent hull design…
The plained hull was chosen by Sun Dolphin for this kayak. It provides more stability than a rounded hull, making a great space for novices to gain their confidence. It also tracks well, which is another important feature of any kayak you may choose.
Usually, kayaks with a flatter bottom struggle to glide well. There is more surface area than with V-shaped hulls, causing friction with the water. The designers took this into consideration and came up with a bow and stern that have a semi-upswept and pointed design. This helps the kayak glide smoother and longer, and it also helps with tracking.
Make turns quickly and easily…
Experienced kayakers will tell you, longer kayaks glide and track better. However, if you’re looking for maneuverability, then a shorter kayak is preferable. With less lateral water resistance, you can make turns quicker and more easily.
With no keel or stiff chines, there’s less friction from edges catching the water which also makes turning considerably easier. For the price level, the Aruba 10 is one of the most maneuverable kayaks available and with some practice, you’ll be able to achieve a 180° turn with just a couple of strokes.
Handles well enough to take down a slalom course…
It carves out the water with no problems, thanks to the angled bow working with the flat hull to shoot through the water. For the price point again, it handles well and experiences minimal friction.
Durability is also a crucial feature to consider when choosing your kayak. The Aruba 10 is composed of Rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex® polyethylene. It’s not as sturdy or as well constructed as more expensive options but this is to be expected at such a low price point.
We should note that this material scratches and picks up dings rather easily. You’ll end up with plastic curls along the hull as you gain experience. This is part of learning but it does affect the overall drag.
Save money and learn in an entry-level kayak…
The Aruba 10 is also made of a thinner material than some other options. This helps with the weight but also affects how much gear you can carry.
It also plays strongly into the lower durability of this option compared with more expensive models, but we recommend, save your cash and fork out for a more expensive model when you have enough experience.
Even if you’re not perfectly comfortable…
We did find the foot brace system and the backrest adjustability to be dependable which leads us into the comfort aspect of the kayak. Unfortunately, this is another area where you feel the sting of the money savings that keep the Aruba 10 affordable. We won’t say it is uncomfortable, but it certainly could use some improvements.
Unless you are out for very extended periods…
However, comfort is key if you’re planning to be on the water for extended periods of time. But if this is not the case, you can accept that when you down-grade the pricing category, you’re going to lose out on some features.
The Aruba 10 still has many of the top features, but many have been downgraded. This is most notable in the seating as the padded seat offers very little padding or comfort.
It’s a cupped plastic seat constructed from the same material as the hull. Slightly raised from the cockpit to keep you dry, and it provides minimal support. There is a padded back strap that is adjustable, but too thin for long-term comfort.
Of course, you can make small upgrades yourself…
You can, of course, modify all of the above quite easily. A little extra padding under your bum will be much appreciated and not cost too much time or money.
We also think that the thin padding meant to protect your knees and thighs could be a touch thicker. It’s a wonderful feature to have, and it does the job well enough and again, these are all to-be-expected downgrades with kayaks in this price range.
Some further design issues…
The final aspect of comfort that we felt was a let down was the footpeg braces. They are plenty sturdy, but their design can cause issues. For larger paddles especially, it can be difficult to reach under the cockpit to the far end. It’s easy to lose your balance as you reach forward to adjust your feet.
Cargo storage leaves a little to be desired…
As with every other aspect of entry-level kayaks, there is usually a downgrade in storage too. Still, there is a stern shock cord for storage, and another securing the water bottle holder, as well as a bungee cord paddle holder.
There is also a rear storage compartment with a lid. This is a dry zone, which is nice for those items that you don’t want soaking wet. With another bungee cord securing this, you have another place to keep things handy and secure.
Great portability though…
The Aruba 10 by Sun Dolphin is an extremely light kayak, as far as sit-inside kayaks go. This is due in part to the thinner plastic hull, but also due to the lack of any heavy-duty outfitting. It’s also a fairly short kayak.
Weighing only 40 lb., this kayak is fairly easy to move around and is one of the lightest entry-level kayaks available. The carrying handles are spaced perfectly for two people and we’d recommend having a second person there to help you load and unload.
It’s also easy to drag around rocky portages. You won’t expend much energy getting this kayak to the waters’ edge which improves the overall experience and means you’ll likely use it more often.
Price is a definite win…
The final aspect to consider is the price, and that’s where this kayak shines. The Aruba 10 is an entry-level kayak through and through. It’s not overly technical in its design, nor is it fully loaded with features. But it’s solid and stable enough to take out for your first time on the water.
We think it’s also still fun enough to use for years after. For learning control, and what you really want in the way of an upgrade, this is a great option.
Sure, it’s not as durable as some kayaks, but it will see you through your clumsy learning phase for sure and in our books, this is important. There’s no point scuffing up your top-notch forever kayak while you’re still learning!
Learn first and decide along the way…
Many people buy their first kayak thinking they know what they want. It’s only after a bit of time on the water they realize a few things they wished were different. Don’t waste your money buying a bunch of kayaks.
You will also learn along the way exactly what you want from a kayak. These days, there are options specifically designed for just about every aspect of the sport. If you’re looking to fish from the kayak, you’ll want a different watercraft than someone looking to ride rapids. By starting with an inexpensive, entry-level kayak you save money in the long run.
Buy a solid entry-level kayak, like the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10, and learn what you want. You’ll not only save money, but you will also be more likely to get exactly what you want from your next purchase. This means more time in the water enjoying yourself.
The best use for the Aruba 10 is calmer water…
Once you know how to handle the boat, you’ll be able to handle small rapids in this kayak. The flat bottom helps with stability, and the open cockpit is great for entering and exiting. It’s a great option for lakes, ponds, and calm rivers.
It’s also very maneuverable. This makes it perfect for those lakes with small channels, or for navigating mangroves. We rate this kayak as one of the best kayaks for young people and novices.
Pros & Cons Of Sun Dolphin Aruba 10
- Angled bow and flat hull work together to help with glide and control.
- Stable enough for novice kayakers.
- Limited Lifetime Warranty.
- Shock cord deck rigging.
- Adjustable foot braces and protective thigh pads.
- Adjustable padded seat.
- Water bottle and paddle holders.
- Large open cockpit and storage compartment.
- Easy to enter and exit.
- Composed of UV-stabilized Fortiflex® polyethylene.
- Weighs only 40 pounds.
- Aggressively priced for what you get.
- Not the most comfortable seating arrangement.
- The exterior dings and burrs easily on rocks.
- Footrests can be difficult to adjust on the glide, especially for taller users.
Looking For Other Great Kayak Reviews?
If so, please check out our Best Fishing Kayaks Under 500 Reviews.
You may also be interested in our article on How to Transport a Kayak without a Roofrack, or if you know you will spend extended time on the water where seating comfort is a priority, do read our Best Kayak Seat Reviews.
Kayaking can be a great way to spend the day outside. It can be intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of things it is truly enjoyable. Relax and slowly drift around, or burn off those donuts and get some exercise.
Considering the stability, comfort, durability, transportability, and cargo storage features, of all the options out there, the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10 is one of our favorite entry-level kayaks.
So, what’s keeping you here? Go buy one and have some fun.