Is the VW California a good van for kitesurfing?
I was lucky enough to take delivery of a VW California Ocean 6.1 in 2023.
My plan was to be able to do weekend kitesurfing getaway trips in the UK plus travel into France, Spain and Portugal to experience van life whilst kitesurfing and also working remotely.
Here is a summary of key learnings and discoveries. Some relate to kitesurfing, others are more general. But if you are thinking of buying a VW California or similar, this should help!
1. How does a kiteboard fit into the VW California Ocean?
As you may well be aware, the rear seats of the Ocean slide backwards and forwards. As you would expect, boot space is maximised by having the seats fully forward. When in this state I can only just get my 135cm twintip board in there. Along with 3 kites, associated paraphernalia and a large backpack - no issues.
However in order to go to what I call "Office/Lounge/Kitchen Mode", the seats need to be fully back in which case I need to remove the kiteboard from the 'boot' so there is space for the seats to move back. In these instances I usually place it in the passenger seat where it is well out of the way.
Another important learning was that in order to go to "Sleep mode" (i.e. set the bed up), the seats need to be forward - but not all of the way otherwise there is a gap between the reclined seats and rear section of the bed. The few inches back that the seats need to go to close the gap are enough to stop my board fitting in the boot area. So I cannot fit my kiteboard in the VW California Ocean boot when the bed is setup. Again in these cases I usually have the board on the passenger seat, but another option could be to have it 'Upstairs' in the raised roof section although I prefer to have the upstairs bed fully raised for ventilation purposes - which might not be possible if I want to leave a board on the upstairs bed. There is also the possibility that once I have my inflatable mattress (the expensive but excellent Comfort Deluxe Self Inflating Sleeping Pad from Sea to Summit) setup, the gap underneath does not matter - it's only about 10cm.
The final point to note is that even if you do managed to get your board into the boot area whilst in 'sleep mode', I noticed that when dropping the back seats, the dropped headrests which hang off the back occupy a fair amount of space in the boot and a kiteboard + kit can be enough to stop you being able to drop the back seats into a horizontal position. In my case the headrests on backseats are entirely redundant and it is a shame there is no easy option to remove them.
I have a lot more I want to share following a 3,000km roadtrip through Spain, Portugal and France this year and will do so when I can. Please get in touch if you have any specific questions, i'll try and help! My proposed topics are as follows:
2. Managing the water situation when travelling in a VW California Ocean
3. Power and electricity when travelling in a VW California Ocean
4. How fuel efficient is the VW California Ocean 6.1?
5. How to stay cool in a VW California Ocean
6. What to have in your fridge for road trips in the VW California
7. Using the shower in the VW California Ocean
8. Camp spots for VW California Campervans - planning your stopovers
9. How to find kitesurfing spots on your campervan adventure
10. Food planning for trips in your VW California
11. Essential kit list - what to have/take in your camper