Sun Dolphin Kayak Reviews – The Top Rated Models Reviewed

Both beginners and experienced kayakers know just how pricey kayaks can get. Whether they are crafted from fiberglass or carbon composites, it can seem difficult to find a high performance kayak for half the going price.

Luckily, Sun Dolphin has been manufacturing durable yet cost effective kayaks for the past thirty years. For decades, these thermoplastic kayaks have been valued for their lightweight yet consistently strong performance on the water.

Before you opt for just any kayak, make sure to put a little research into what particular craft will fit your needs. An impact-resistant, portable Sun Dolphin just might be the right answer.

The Top Rated Sun Dolphin Kayaks go as follows

  1. Sun Dolphin Sit-In 10 Ft. Excursion Kayak – (Best Kayak for Fishing)
  2. Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 12 Ft. Sit-In Kayak – (Best Kayak for Storage Capacity)
  3. Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10 Ft. Sit On Top Kayak – (Most Comfortable Solo Kayak)
  4. Sun Dolphin Excursion SS 10 Ft. Sit-In Fishing Kayak – (Most Cost Effective Kayak)
  5. Sun Dolphin Bali 13.5 Ft. Tandem Kayak  – (Most Full-Featured Kayak)

The Sun Dolphin Kayak: A Brief History

In the summer of ’82, Sun Dolphin began as a small, family-owned company crafting two person pedal boats. The heavily trafficked Lake Michigan area provided the perfect setting for travelers passing in and out of the Great Lakes region to rent from Sun Dolphin.

Since the company’s humble beginnings, it has grown to be a massive leader among the water sports and boating markets. Despite some bumps along the road, Sun Dolphin still manufactures in the same small town it started in: Muskegon, Michigan.

Unlike other manufacturers, Sun Dolphin remains committed to the practice of vertical integration. Kayak and watercraft designs are seen through from the design stage to the store shelf right in the same building.

Nowadays, Sun Dolphin is recognized for crafting comfortable, durable, and high quality kayaks for a fair price. Most Sun Dolphin Kayaks are constructed with high density plastics, like the stiff composite polyurethane, that can withstand both calm and rough water conditions.

Review of the Best Dolphin Kayaks

We’ve made sure to collect a list of the best, most effective Sun Dolphin kayaks currently on the market. Each product has been selected for its unique performance benefits and comparative advantages.

1. Sun Dolphin Sit-In 10 Ft. Excursion Kayak (Best Kayak for Fishing)

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4.5/5

Features

  • Sleek, hydrodynamic design allows for fitting in tight spaces
  • Best kayak for solo-fishing trips
  • Offers lightweight yet high-density materials design for stiffness

Thin enough to skirt through rivers and lakes, this 10 ft. long excursion kayak can wind itself through the most secluded fishing spots. Moreover, the lightweight watercraft is easy for a single person to carry, which makes it even more ideal for solo-trips.

Customers appreciate that this cost effective kayak both tracks and paddles with ease, offering maximal stability for both beginners and experienced kayakers.

The UV-stabilized, polyethylene FortiFlex keeps this portable kayak impact and corrosion-resistant for years. Like other Sun Dolphin water crafts, the high density plastic construction helps to reduce wear and improve longevity.

>>What Customers Think<<

The kayak features two, flush-mounted rod holders, a spacious cockpit, and easily adjustable padded seating. In terms of dry storage, this Sun Dolphin comes with a water-resistant compartment, shock cord rigging, a water bottle holder, and extra paddle holder.

With this watercraft’s extra storage, it’s great to take out for a full day trip on the lake or nearby rivers.

Pros

  • Cost effective pricing
  • Offers both stability and fast tracking through tight spaces
  • Lightweight enough for a single rider to carry and load

Cons

  • May not perform very well on whitewater rapid conditions

See the Full Review of the Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 Here

 

2. Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 12 Ft. Sit-In Kayak (Best Kayak for Storage Capacity)

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4.5/5

Features

  • Provides best storage space for solo kayaker
  • Portable Accessory Carrier can be used as extra storage
  • Comes with height seat adjustment and extra shock rigging material

Offered in shades ranging from blue to red, the Aruba SS offers stability and easy tracking through its lightweight and thinner construction. Perfect for recreational trips out to the lake, this kayak is known for being easy to tote around and climb into.

Especially for older kayakers, the spacious cockpit provides a painless way to climb inside the water craft. The easy entry and exit is especially convenient in the rare case that this stabilized kayak flips.

>>What Customers Think<<

In contrast with other Sun Dolphin sit-in kayaks, buyers appreciate the open tank well that provides extra storage. Behind the cockpit, a deep hull with rugged netting helps keep all your personal items snug, while the front of the craft features a small waterproof storage system appropriate for electronic devices.

Made from rugged polyethylene plastics, this wear-resistant and corrosion-proof kayak provides an inexpensive option for those just getting introduced to the sport.

New buyers should keep in mind that the Aruba is meant primarily for lakes and rivers; it may struggle under the influence ocean currents or falling rapids.

Pros

  • Spacious, shallow cockpit allows for highly stable entry and exit
  • High stability despite shallow cockpit design
  • Damage-resistant due to UV-enhanced polyethylene construction

Cons

  • Tracks very well in rivers yet struggles in ocean currents

See The Full Review of the Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 12 

 

3. Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10 Ft. Sit On Top Kayak (Most Comfortable Solo Kayak)

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4/5

Features

  • Most comfortable solo, sit on top kayak
  • Storage space can be optionally expanded through removing waterproof compartment
  • Features graduated foot wells for all day comfort on long trips

Offering a high degree of stability, this sit-on Sun Dolphin is known to both track and paddle easily. Though it’s especially recommended for beginning kayakers, many experienced and advanced age kayakers prefer the sit-on top model for easy entry and exit.

For calm rivers and lakes, the Bali provides comfort for day-long journeys and fishing trips. Compared to other models, the fully open cockpit allows for the easiest and safest bailing in the rare case of a tip.

>>What Customers Think<<

Though many worry about the comfort of sit-on top kayaks, the Bali features a cozy seating area, protective thigh pads, adjustable foot braces, and a paddle holder. Customers state that they don’t suffer from the calf and thigh cramps that plague them on other kayak models.

Behind the seating area, a single waterproof compartment secured by shock cording helps to keep your most valuable items secure. The compartment can even be individually removed from the hull and strapped to the back of the kayak for extra temporary storage space.

Pros

  • Open cockpit style allows for easy bailing and exit
  • Offers great stability atop the water despite open, raised cockpit design
  • Seating is reinforced with comfortable thigh pads, foot braces, and more

Cons

  • Not built for achieving high speeds

 

4. Sun Dolphin Excursion SS 10 Ft. Sit-In Fishing Kayak (Most Cost Effective Kayak)

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4/5

Features:

  • Most cost effective and affordable solo sit-in kayak
  • Comes with retractable carrying handles for better hydro-dynamism
  • Offers large seating area

With a more roomy cockpit than ever, the 10 ft long Excursion SS provides all the storage space, comfortable padding, and adjustable components you’ll need for a long trip.

Available in shades like olive and sand, the Excursion is great for those who appreciate both comfort and durable performance. Though it’s a little wider than previous Excursion series predecessors, it is customizable enough to fit nearly any kayakers’ individuals needs.

Buyers appreciate the addition of extra storage compartments, extra shock rigging, and the improved action of the adjustable foot braces. Like previous versions of the Excursion, a single swivel and two flush-mounted rod holders, along with easy carrying handles, improve workflow significantly.

>>What Customers Think<<

That said, some complain that this model of the excursion is somewhat unstable upon entry and exit. Though it’s very easy to maneuver into tight spaces, the kayak may feel too unbalanced for unexperienced kayakers.

Pros

  • Slightly wider space allows for more storage and cockpit comfort
  • Comes with extra shock rigging and waterproof container component
  • Foot braces are more easily adjustable than previous models

Cons

  • Some complain that the kayak is unbalanced upon entry and exit

 

5. Sun Dolphin Bali 13.5 Ft. Tandem Kayak  (Most Full-Featured Kayak)

>>Check Price on Amazon<<

4/5

Features:

  • Rear seat can be pushed forward for single riders
  • Best kayak with extra features, storage space, and customization options
  • Comes with dry storage compartment secured by shock cord deck rigging

Able to accommodate up to three people, the Bali provides an excellent option for you and a couple friends. For most adults, the middle seat can comfortably seat a third person or single riders can even shift the rear padded seat to the center.

With three distinct covered storage compartments, this shock-resistant, shallow cockpit kayak is ideal to use for long day river trips. The incorporated storage wells can be used to store food or other personal items since they’re water resistant.

That said, you’ll need to purchase additional fully waterproof compartments if you intend to attempt whitewater rapids or store electronics. In calm lakes and rivers, it shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Though the space seems a little small at first, buyers state that the use of padded, adjustable seating and leg padding keeps the water craft continuously comfortable. The sliding foot braces mean that riders can adjust their position as they see fit, while the seat back boasts a high back ideal for reducing next-day soreness.

Even for a single user, this kayak is easy to carry and port around for either solo or tandem recreation. The easy cockpit entry-and-exit system keeps this kayak stabilized as occupants leave and enter, making it perfect for those with less experience in the water.

Along with the spacious and shallow cockpits, the convenient carrying handles can double as weight bracing handles on more turbulent water.

The only consistent complaint some buyers have is that the Sun Dolphin tandem kayak isn’t quite as stiffly constructed as single kayaks. The kayaks’ long length means that it may bend if undergoing stressful conditions and buyers recommend to strap down the nose for transporting the kayak at highway speeds.

Pros

  • Comes with three different convenient storage compartments
  • Comfortable for one, two, or three riders
  • Customers state the tandem kayak drains excellently, making it appropriate for whitewater and calm conditions

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with fully waterproof storage compartments
  • Not as high density as single rider Sun Dolphin kayaks

 

Types of Kayaks Made By Sun Dolphin

 

Sun Dolphin makes several different types of kayaks that are fit for different purposes. Depending on the primary reason why you kayak, the materials, shape, and extra features needed will be distinct from anyone else’s perfect pick.

Recreational Kayaks

Great for lake and lazy river rides, recreational kayaks are built for comfort, stability, and easy entry.

Compared to other larger kayaks, Sun Dolphin recreational water crafts feature a cockpit that leaves more room to breathe. It’s common for these products to be sit-on top rather than sit-in kayaks, meaning that the cockpit isn’t enclosed inside the kayak.

Sit-on top kayaks may feature a wider beam that ranges from 27 to 30 inches, which helps to provide more stability in the water. Virtually any Sun Dolphin Kayak under twelve feet can operate effectively as a recreational kayak, since the craft is build for maneuverability rather than speed.

Additionally, Sun Dolphin recreational kayaks come with extra bells and whistles, such as additional storage components, waterproof containers, shock rigging, and deep-groove paddle holders. These features make it convenient for kayakers to bring food or other recreational equipment for a day spent on the lake.

Since more room is allocated for the cockpit, recreational Sun Dolphin kayaks are usually considered more comfortable. The seat rest may be higher and the kayak likely comes with adjustable foot brakes, thigh padding, and space for additional cushions.

Ultimately, recreational kayaks are excellent for beginners since they are easy to move and hard to accidentally fall out of. That said, they won’t achieve the best speed and will not be appropriate on ocean tides.

Fishing Kayaks

It can be difficult to distinguish fishing kayaks from recreational crafts. However, there are some key distinctions that could play a large role in a fisherman’s successful catch.

Sun Dolphin kayaks for fishing are somewhat more pricey; however, they are significantly more comfortable, stable, and maneuverable than recreational kayaks.

When looking out for a fishing kayak, make sure to look into what features it comes with. Sun Dolphin kayaks for fishing may come with extra rod holders, mounting tracks, and paddle holders for extra convenience.

Even more importantly, these kayaks shouldn’t skimp on storage. Most anglers need a significant amount of equipment to fish at peak level.

Many Sun Dolphin kayaks come with both rear and front storage, where rods and tackle can be placed. Others allow for center consoles that make quick access to lures and accessories much easier.

Finally, the comfort of the cockpit can make or break the entire excursion. If you aren’t comfortable in the kayak, it’s likely your trip won’t be all that enjoyable. Fishing specific kayaks come with high-ended seats that help to relieve pressure from the lower back and buttocks.

Of course, you should think about where you typically fish before buying the bulkiest and most decked-out Sun Dolphin kayak. Those who need to maneuver themselves into tight bayou spots will need a slimmer, speedier water craft than those who fish on open lakes.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a kayak with good performance to price ratio on speed, maneuverability, and stability, the Sun Dolphin 10 Ft. Sit-In Excursion has got you covered. Though its thin build may throw some customers off, the rugged, high-density polyethylene build will keep the kayak safe from impact damage.

Moreover, the kayak’s surprisingly spacious cockpit and adjustable seat padding keep this solo water craft comfortable for all-day adventures or fishing trips.

Whether you’re a recreational kayaker or fisher, the Sun Dolphin Excursion is extensible enough to be used for multiple purposes. This comfortable, stable, and customizable kayak is a great starter craft for those both new and old to kayaking.

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