7 Camper Van Rentals for the Ultimate California Coast Road Trip

camper van rentals california

Renting a camper van and road tripping is an incredible way to explore any place on earth, but especially the famously beautiful California coast. And especially if you surf. There are so many great surf breaks all over California, you could spend months exploring them.

We went on an epic surfing road trip up the California coast, and in our planning phases, we did a whole lot of research on camper van rentals. We’ve already done the work for you, so here’s a detailed lowdown on camper van rentals in California.

And if you’re planning to do some road tripping along the coast, be sure to check out our guide to the Pacific Coast Highway >> Highway 1 Road Trip / A Surfer’s Guide to the California Coast

 

CAMPER VAN VERSUS RV

camper van rentals california

This is an RV / photo and RV rental via Outdoorsy

First things first, camper vans are not RVs. Recreational vehicles (RVs) are much larger motor vehicles equipped with living space and many amenities that you would find in a home like a kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area. Some require a special license to drive and can be very cumbersome and difficult to maneuver.

camper van rentals california

This is a groovy 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia camper van / available to rent in Santa Barbara via Outdoorsy

Camper vans are typically vans that have been outfitted to provide both transportation and a sleeping area, and they’re considerably less expensive. The vans don’t require any special driver’s license and they’re relatively small in size compared to RVs. All of the camper van rentals on our list have some form of a small built-in kitchen and a bed, as well as a range of other amenities to consider.

It’s good to note that all camper vans are not created equal. Some campers are smaller, more bare-bones rentals, while others come with the whole enchilada. So definitely take that into consideration when looking at pricing.

 

COST OF CAMPER VAN RENTALS IN CALIFORNIA

Pricing on camper van rentals ranges widely depending on what time of year you’ll be road tripping. Here are the seasons (roughly) for road tripping on the California coast:

  • High season (summer): June – September
  • Midseason: October, April, and May
  • Low season (winter): November – March

*Note that you will see higher rates during US holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas/New Years, and dates that include 3-day weekends.

Many camper van rental companies don’t publish their rates. As with most travel, the rates on camper van rentals vary depending on what time of year you’re traveling, how long you want to rent for (typically the longer you rent, the cheaper the nightly rate), and how far in advance you book. The rates we have listed below are based on mid-season pricing on a weeklong trip, October 8 – 15 to be exact.

It’s also good to know that some companies (like JUCY) offer relocation rates where, essentially, they need to get a camper from one location to another. The rates are super low (like $1 per day, plus a free tank of fuel), but there are different limitations on time frames. For example, with JUCY you can only take 3 days max to relocate a vehicle.

In our guide to camper van rentals on the California Coast, we’ve broken down some standard info on each camper van rental, including rental locations, number of passengers, one-way fees, mileage, pet policies, and pricing (but remember the pricing will vary widely depending on the season so this is just a gauge to give you an idea of rates on mid-season rentals).

 

Camper Van Rentals in California

 

1 • VINTAGE SURFARI WAGONS

camper van rentals california / vanagon rentals

Get a taste of California’s swinging road trip past with a 1970s era VW camper bus. Vintage Surfari Wagons has a fleet of super sweet retro VW Eurovans from the 70s, as well as a handful of 80s VW Vanagons that are also pretty darn groovy. Each bus and Vanagon rental has its own unique charm and has been revived with fresh trim and groovy beach-inspired accents.

The buses all come standard with essentials such as: stove, sink (with water tank), ice box or refrigerator, dining table, and all the other accessories you’ll need to make it happen.

We had the pleasure of renting a 1979 Deluxe Westfalia Pop-Top Camper named Eddie and had an epic road trip, surfing and camping up the California coast. Read about our VW adventure here.

camper van rental california

 

RENTAL LOCATIONS: COSTA MESA

PASSENGERS: 4-5 people (sleeps 2-4 adults) depending on model

MILEAGE: 120 free miles included per rental day (Additional miles on Vanagon and Eurovan buses are at .39/mile. Bay Window buses are .79/mile per additional mile.)

PETS: Pets are welcome with prior approval. A $100 per pet per rental is required (maximum of 2) and they request that dogs be under 45 pounds.

PRICING:

  • LOW SEASON
    $129 – $169 per day /$830 – $1100 per week
  • MIDSEASON
    $149 – $189 per day /$985 – $1220 per week
  • HIGH SEASON
    $1200 – $1500 weekly

ONE-WAY FEE: $550 (and a 14-day minimum rental required)

INSURANCE: $18 – $28 per day

If you are a North American resident and have a full coverage auto policy (liability, comprehensive and collision), then you’re probably insured while driving one of Surfari’s VWs.

GOOD TO KNOW: These vintage VWs are exactly that–vintage! Because these buses were developed in the 1930s and built with all the technical sophistication of the 1970s, you don’t have some of those modern car conveniences you take for granted. Most of the buses have a manual transmission, there’s no air conditioning or power anything, and the company asks that you not exceed 65 mph (105 kph).

Vintage Surfari Wagons website

 

 

2 • OUTDOORSY

camper van rentals california

2016 Ford Transit Camper Van for rent in Ventura / photo via Outdoorsy

Outdoorsy is an online rental marketplace that connects camper van owners with camper van renters. Think of it as Airbnb for camper van rentals. Outdoorsy has listings for all types of adventure-happy vehicles—from modern custom camper vans and vintage Airstreams to all sizes of RVs and motorhomes.

Like Airbnb, you communicate directly with the camper van owner, but Outdoorsy gives you security and support through the process. When booking through Outdoorsy, you get  $1M insurance (as long as you pass the DMV check), 24/7 RV rental roadside assistance, and a customer support team.

camper van rentals california

1973 Volkswagen Riviera for rent in Santa Barbara / photo via Outdoorsy

There are currently 116 listings for camper van rentals in California, most of which are based in or near San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. There are some seriously awesome camper vans available for rent.  Choose from 4×4 Mercedes Sprinter Adventure Vans, Vintage VW pop-top campers, and slick custom campers complete with surfboard racks and all the bells and whistles.

camper van rentals california

2017 Promaster Camper Van for rent in Berkeley / photo via Outdoorsy

 

RENTAL LOCATIONS: Throughout California – the majority of rentals are based in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco

PASSENGERS: Depends on the vehicle; the vans typically seat 2-5, and sleep 2-4

MILEAGE: Depends on the vehicle; most rentals are in the range  50-150 free miles per day

PETS: Depends on the vehicle; some rentals don’t allow pets whatsoever, some allow pets for an additional fee, and some are pet-friendly without an additional fee

PRICING: Rentals range from $65 – $300 per night depending on the camper van

ONE-WAY FEE: Most camper vans for rent on Outdoorsy are listed by private owners and therefore don’t offer options for one-way trips

INSURANCE: The Outdoorsy insurance process is fully automated, paperless, and only takes a few minutes for each user. Coverage is automatic for every certified vehicle on Outdoorsy with any renter who passes their DMV check. Renters are covered under a $1 Million liability policy and $250,000 in comprehensive and collision protection. Outdoorsy also offers optional roadside assistance packages for $15/day USD.

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • To search for camper van rentals on Outdoorsy and filter out all other rental types (there are lots of huge RVs for rent as well), in the top search bar on the Outdoorsy home page, type in the city you want to pick up the van (dates are optional) and click ‘Search.’ This will bring you to a page with all of the rentals in the area, so what you want to do is find the ‘Search Filters‘ on the left of the screen. Click ‘Vehicle Type‘ and select ‘Camper Van.’ This will filter out everything besides camper vans so you can van-browse to your heart’s content!
  • Because all listings on Outdoorsy are owned and managed by individual owners, terms and amenities can vary greatly. Make sure you read the listings thoroughly to know exactly what amenities are included in your rental. Also, many rentals offer add-ons such as surfboards, wetsuits, camp chairs, etc.

Outdoorsy website

 

 

3 • ESCAPE CAMPERVANS

camper van rentals escape

Escape Campervans is one of the largest fleets of camper vans in the US, with 10 locations across the country. Each van has been hand-painted by a local artist, so you’ll be driving and living out of a mini piece of art.

Escape’s pricing is really reasonable, and a lot of benefits are included in the daily rate, like 100 miles per day, free picnic chairs, and free bedding. The company has a “no hidden costs” policy, which basically means that all of their pricing is upfront, and they’re not going to tack on a laundry list of unexpected extras.

camper van rentals escape

Escape offers three camper van models, the Ford E150 (Mavericks), the Dodge Caravan (Ventura), and the Big Sur (Ford T-350), and all campers are covered in custom artwork from top to bottom. Escape has partnered with LA-based artists to paint every van and styles range from abstract to landscape to cartoon to classic graffiti. When you book your reservation you can mention which genre or style of van art you prefer (nature, abstract or cartoon).

camper van rentals escape campevans

 

RENTAL LOCATIONS: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Denver, Miami, New York, Atlanta, and Vancouver, B.C.

PASSENGERS: Mavericks (sleeps 2-3 or 5 with rooftop sleeper), Big Sur (sleeps 4-5), and Ventura seats 4 (sleeps 2)

MILEAGE:

  • 100 miles per day included for free and averaged over your hire. The cost of additional miles is 25 cents per mile.
  • Purchase an additional 100 miles for $15/Day (giving you a total of 200 miles/day) The cost of additional miles is 25 cents per mile for mileage greater than 200 miles per day averaged over your trip
  • You can purchase unlimited miles at the start of your trip for only $25 per day.

PETS: The pet fee is $150. Pets are allowed in the shoulder and low season ONLY (outside July, August, and September).

PRICING: Pricing varies by season and by model. Rates range from $100-$150/day for a week in peak summer season.

ONE-WAY FEE: $150 to $350 depending on locations

INSURANCE: $10 to $22.25/day

If you’re a U.S. or Canadian resident with a valid driver’s license and automobile insurance that provides full coverage for rental vehicles (including minivans), you may have coverage.

GOOD TO KNOW: These camper vans are quite the artistic bunch! It’s good to know that the company doesn’t offer basic-color vans, and you can’t choose the exact artwork for your rental. That being said, in the FAQs on Escape’s website, it sounds like they make a good effort to help you get a style you’re stoked with.

Escape Campervans website

 

 

4 • JUCY RV RENTALS

camper van rentals california

JUCY is a camper van rental company that started in New Zealand and has since branched out to Australia, US & Canada. In the US & Canada, JUCY offers one model of mini RV which is essentially a souped-up minivan that’s been customized for your camping road trip pleasure.

JUCY designs and builds the vans themselves in their own manufacturing division in Auckland and Los Angeles called JUCY By Design, which allows them to control quality and function right from the outset.

camper van rentals california

The JUCY Trailblazer (offered in USA & Canada) includes a fridge, two gas stoves, kitchen sink, cooking utensils, silverware and two comfortable double beds to sleep up to four people. Other optional items include solar showers, camping tools, electric blankets, lanterns, snow chains, firewood, etc. Because it’s essentially a minivan base, this camper van is very easy to drive and is relatively economical on gas.

camper van rentals california

 

RENTAL LOCATIONS: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Vancouver (Canada)

PASSENGERS: 5 people (seats 5, sleeps 4 in two double beds)

MILEAGE: Additional fee. Pre- Paid mileage packs offered:

  • 100 Miles $12.00 (Nightly)
  • Unlimited Miles $25.00 (Nightly)
  • 500 Miles $120.00 (Fixed)
  • Pay per Mile (25c/mile, calculated on return) $0.00 (Fixed)

PETS: Animals (excluding registered guide or assistance dogs) are not permitted in the vehicle at any time.

PRICING: $50 per day / $350 per week (plus mileage fees)

ONE-WAY FEE: $175

INSURANCE: $12 – $22/ day

If you’re a U.S. or Canadian resident with a valid driver’s license and automobile insurance that provides full coverage for rental vehicles (including minivans), you may have coverage for the van.

GOOD TO KNOW: JUCY offers really awesome relocation rates where, basically, they need to get a camper from one location to another. The rates are super low (like $1 per day, plus a free tank of fuel), but there are different limitations on time frames. You can read more about relocation rates here.

JUCY USA website

 

 

5 • HIGHWAY ONE RENTALS

camper van rentals california

Based in Northern California, Highway One Rentals offers awesome vintage Westfalia camper vans from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. You can choose from the 70s Bay Window Westfalia, 80s Vanagon, or 90s Eurovan, all lovingly restored and ready for your dream California road trip.

Highway One makes an effort to acquire and restore VW campers with that extra cool factor, so if you’re looking for a camper with style, you’re in the right place.

california campervan rentals

The rentals come with a built-in refrigerator, stove, a full roster of cooking utensils, coffee maker, an extendable awning for shade, and a bunch of other extras to make you prepared for your #vanlife adventure. Additional options include a linen package with sleeping bags, bike racks, and a Hibachi BBQ for outside cooking.

Camper van rentals highway 1

 

RENTAL LOCATION: Carmel, California

PASSENGERS: Seats up to 6 (Sleeps 4)

MILEAGE: 125 miles per day, $.35/mile overage charge.

PETS: Not recommended, no large pets.

PRICING: $215/night, $1,250/week, $4,000/month

ONE-WAY FEE: One-way trips are not an option

INSURANCE: The company requires a $2000 deposit before rental, and full rental insurance coverage is $18/day.

GOOD TO KNOW: Highway 1 Rentals allow their camper vans on long trips and long distance rentals, but require bookings for those extensive journeys to go through their partners at Outdoorsy for safety and liability reasons. Highway One does not rent out vans for burning man, cross-border trips, or off-road travel.

Highway One Rentals website

 

 

6 • PACIFIC OVERLANDER

camper van rentals california

Pacific Overlander rents a rad fleet of 4×4 SUVs and pickup trucks outfitted with rooftop tents, camping equipment, and all the goods you need for adventuring off the beaten path. As far as we know, this is the only company in California offering 4×4 camping vehicles, and these guys do it right.

camper van rentals california

Pacific Overlander offers eight different vehicle models, from an iconic vintage V8 Land Rover Defender to a top-of-the-line Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. All the vehicles in the fleet are fully equipped to take you on all those off-roading expeditions of your dreams.

camper van rentals california

All rentals include a rooftop tent complete with a memory foam mattress, camp chairs/table, a stove, lantern, and all the needed camping gear to make your trip easy peasy. Pacific Overlander also offers a range of optional add-ons like snow chains, sleeping bags, bike racks, wifi, GPS/Satellite SMS devices, and vehicle recovery equipment.

 

RENTAL LOCATIONS: San Francisco, Las Vegas (one-way trips available to/from all major Western US cities)

PASSENGERS: 4 people / sleeps 2-4 adults

MILEAGE: 150 free miles per day are included / $30 per day for +100 extra miles per day / $.50 per additional miles

PETS: 2 dogs max (+$50 cleaning fee)

PRICING: $135 – $290 per day / ~$945 per week / $150 is the intro daily rate which drops to $135 with 7+ day rental

ONE-WAY FEE: One-way fees are determined by location (i.e. SF-LA $500). Pacific Overlander can support one-way travel to any major city in the Western US.

INSURANCE: American and Canadian renters may provide their own insurance if they have comprehensive car insurance (fully comp). Pacific Overlander provides fully comp ($1 million liability policy and $250,000 in comprehensive and collision protection) for $20 – $30/ day for renters without their own insurance (US & non-US residents). Complimentary roadside assistance is provided on all vehicles.

GOOD TO KNOW: One of the major benefits of Pacific Overlander’s fleet of 4×4 vehicles is their ability to take advantage of “dispersed camping” or the free camping options found within the National Forests. These areas border many National Parks and often require four-wheel drive to access.

The company also offers complimentary itinerary planning, so you have some support with planning your trip and can focus on what really matters: having an awesome adventure.

Pacific Overlander website

 

 

7 • AIYRE PACIFIC CAMPER VANS

camper van rentals aiyre pacific

AIYRE Pacific rents a fleet of affordable and incognito minivans near Los Angeles International Airport equipped with all the camping essentials to make your California camping road trip a go. The company personally communicates with each traveler before their trip to answer any questions and make sure they’re all set.

camper van rentals aiyre pacific

AIYRE Pacific’s minivans come supplied with everything but the kitchen sink: a mini queen bed, bedding, cooler, propane stove, cooking utensils, portable awning, folding chairs, table, and more. These camper vans are super easy to drive, fuel efficient, and are completely unmarked with no outside company logos so you can travel like a local.

camper van rentals aiyre pacific

All campers are 2014 or newer Dodge Grand Caravans, and the company is actually carbon neutral because they buy carbon offsets for every mile driven in their cars. There are no hidden extra costs, and prices include all taxes, carbon offset and unlimited miles for trips longer than 7 days.

 

RENTAL LOCATION: Los Angeles (near LAX)

PASSENGERS: Carries Driver + 3 Passengers, Sleeps 2 adults (tent and airbed available)

MILEAGE: Unlimited miles for trips 8 days and longer. 150 miles/day for trips up to 7 days, $0.25/additional mile

PETS: $250 cleaning fee

PRICING: Prices vary by season: Daily: $60-$90, Weekly: $375-$566, Monthly: $1,336-$2,155.  Prices are for fully equipped vans, no hidden or additional equipment charges.

ONE-WAY FEE: $200

INSURANCE: Optional Liability insurance: $3/day (Basic) $8/day (Premium). You may decline coverage and use your US car insurance instead. Young Driver Insurance (mandatory for drivers 21-25): $6/day

GOOD TO KNOW: If you have more than two passengers, Aiyre Pacific will provide a tent, airbed and sleeping bags free of charge to accommodate the additional travelers. If you’re traveling with surfboards, they can be stored under the bed or on the roof racks.

AIYRE Pacific Camper Vans website

 

 

For more California travel inspiration, check out:

 

Highway 1 Road Trip / A Surfer’s Guide to the California Coast

The Best Beach Camping in California for Surfing

Camping in California / 11 Tips Every Camper Should Know

Pacific Coast Highway Surf Trip Part 1 / Huntington Beach to Morro Bay

Pacific Coast Highway Surf Trip Part 2 / Big Sur

 

And if you’ve ever thought about road tripping around the UK, check out our lowdown on Campervan Hire UK

 

Happy travels!

 

12 Comments

  • William says:

    Loved your article about 6 camper vans
    Very well written

    Please enlighten me , you said about the rv motorhomes , some special drivers license required

    I’ve never heard of a requirement like that for motorhomes in the USA

    Please give details of what you are saying

    I can find no verification of that
    Actually I find the opposite

    Thanks !

    • Tara says:

      Hi William,

      So glad you enjoyed the article! Licensing for driving motor homes varies from state to state, but basically, very large RVs require a special license in some states. For smaller RVs, no special license is required. In California, motor homes over 40′ but not longer than 45′ require non-commercial Class B. Trailers over 10,000 lb GVWR and fifth wheels over 15,000 lb GVWR require non-commercial Class A. Here’s a link to the California DMV for more info: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/pubs/dl648/dl648pt2

      Hope this clears up any confusion! Happy travels!

  • Ian says:

    Thanks for this, really helped our last-minute research!

  • Khalid says:

    Hello there
    I am searching for caravan for rent in California starting from 24th of August until 16th of September for eight passengers that we can travel in the coast of California and we all one family and one child with seven adults

    if you have that you can contact me please and how much is the cost and all details about this kind of car thank you very much and have a nice day

    • Tara says:

      Hello Khalid,

      We write about campervans and beach life on Lush Palm, but we don’t actually rent them out ourselves 🙂 !

      In the article, you can find information and pricing for 6 companies that rent out campervans, as well as links to all of their websites for more information and bookings. Hope you have an awesome trip!

      Happy travels!

  • Omar says:

    Great article and good information. On the other side of the country, there is a new local and small campervan business in south Florida.
    Check: ondevancampervan.com based If you are planning to do a road trip in a camper van in Florida.

  • Christian says:

    Agree with the above comments, this was incredibly helpful, thankyou for posting.

    Hoping you could provide some more insight if possible. Was wondering if you had any advice on the most cost effective option for a solo traveller doing a two week trip?

    Thanks again.

    • Eric says:

      Hi Christian, thanks for the feedback and glad you found the article helpful!
      If you’re looking to rent a campervan then Jucy is probably your most cost effective option. But then you have to factor in campsite fees which can add up. You can look for few ‘rest stops’ that allow free overnight stays and plot a few of those into your plans to save some money. Another option would be to just rent a cheap car and tent camp at the more budget friendly campsites. Good luck and we’d love to hear back about what you end up doing! Safe travels.

  • Megan O Toben says:

    Thanks for the helpful article! Do you have a recommendation for a family of four wanting a simple camper van to travel from San Francisco to Seattle? One way, wandering our way up the coast for the month of August…

    • Tara says:

      Hi Megan,

      Happy you found the article helpful! Sounds like a wonderful family trip! For your needs of traveling one way from SF to Seattle, I would recommend Escape Campervans because they have offices in both locations, which makes it convenient for pick-up and dropoff. You can read more about their campervans and pricing here.

      Have a great trip and happy travels!

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