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Exploring the Sun Dolphin Bali 12 SS Kayak

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Are you in the market for a new kayak? Look no further than the Sun Dolphin Bali 12 SS, a versatile and high-quality option worth considering. In this article, we will delve into the features, performance, and pros and cons of this hybrid kayak. So, let’s jump right in!

Sit-On-Top Design with a Twist

The Sun Dolphin Bali 12 SS is not your typical sit-on-top (SOT) kayak. While it falls under the SOT category, it offers a unique twist. With the Bali 12 SS, your body sits closer to the hull’s bottom, resulting in a lower center of gravity compared to standard SOT kayaks. Think of it as a sit-in kayak without the foredeck covering your legs. It strikes the perfect balance between comfort and maneuverability.

Suitable for Calmer Waters

Designed primarily for lakes and rivers with less choppy conditions, the Bali 12 SS lacks scuppers typically found in SOT ocean kayaks. During my initial test ride, I only experienced minimal water accumulation due to paddle drip, amounting to about a cupful. While the included paddle from Walmart could be improved in terms of drip guards, a little splash is to be expected in a sit-on-top kayak. Embrace the occasional splash as a refreshing part of the experience!

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Smooth Tracking and Stability

Good tracking is essential for an enjoyable kayaking adventure, and the Sun Dolphin Bali 12 SS delivers. While longer kayaks typically excel in this area, the Bali 12 SS surprises with its impressive tracking capabilities. You can confidently navigate calm waters without constantly readjusting your course. Additionally, its stability ensures that you won’t feel on the verge of tipping, even when rocking it back and forth.

Storage Solutions

While the Bali 12 SS might not offer vast storage options, it does provide some convenient compartments. The small watertight area in the bow is perfect for storing personal belongings, such as a wallet or cellphone, especially when protected by a ziplock bag. As for the rear compartment, it’s shallow, but I managed to fit a towel and some sunscreen in there. Remember, it’s all about optimizing space and packing efficiently!

Taking Note of the Negatives

No product is perfect, and the Sun Dolphin Bali 12 SS is no exception. Here are a few drawbacks to consider:

  1. Cushionless Backrest: The adjustable backrest lacks proper cushioning. To ensure maximum comfort during long rides, I recommend investing in a seat cushion.
  2. Uncomfortable Footrests: The adjustable footrests could benefit from angling forward slightly, as vertical positioning might not be the most natural for your feet. Alternatively, the manufacturer could consider implementing molded zigzag footrests, commonly found in SOT ocean kayaks.
  3. Tricky Hatch Covers: The screw-on fore and aft hatch covers can be challenging to remove. It would greatly aid users if the covers had indentations or better grip for easy removal.
  4. Cheap-Looking Lettering: The “Bali 12 SS” name on the side of the kayak is made up of low-quality, individual stick-on letters instead of a more durable decal or paint. Consider removing them to prevent further peeling. It’s a shame that the manufacturer misses out on free advertising during the kayak’s lifespan due to this design choice.
  5. Lack of Middle Carrying Handles: Although the bow and stern have handles for two-person transportation, the absence of handles in the middle can be inconvenient for solo users. However, with a bit of effort, you can still carry the kayak on its side for short distances. Adding indentations in the cockpit next to the thighs would not only serve as grab points but also provide an additional storage option. For reference, the Bali 12 SS weighs approximately 48 pounds.
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A Solid Choice Overall

In conclusion, the Sun Dolphin Bali 12 SS kayak offers a fantastic package, particularly for those seeking flexibility and comfort. Despite a few minor drawbacks, the Bali 12 SS excels in tracking, stability, and durability. It represents excellent value, especially when purchased from Walmart, where you can take advantage of the free kayak paddle and shipping to your local store. Furthermore, the current price of $370 is a steal compared to the MSRP of $599.

Technical Specifications

  • Length: 12′
  • Width: 29.5″
  • Height: 13.5″
  • Weight: 48 lbs
  • Capacity: 395 lbs
  • Warranty: 2 years

By the way, if you’re recovering from knee replacement surgery like me and desire enhanced leg flexibility while seated, the Sun Dolphin Bali 12 SS is an ideal option. Stay comfortable while enjoying all that kayaking has to offer!


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