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The Best Vehicles for Surfers

Whether you’re just starting out at PB (Pacific Beach), the mecca for surfing beginners, or you can handle the wallop of the rippable waves at the legendary Windansea Beach in La Jolla, you want to stay stoked after your ride on the San Diego County surf.

The best way to make that perfect wave be part of a perfect day is to drive to it in the right vehicle and to easily return your gear to a vehicle that perfectly accommodates your needs.

So say aloha to the best vehicles for a surfer. We’ll tell you what to look for, point you in the right direction with a few choices, and cover what it’ll cost you — sticker price and other factors such as car insurance and your occupation.

Surfing and Cars: the Perfect Pair
San Diego residents are outdoor people, taking full advantage of living where the weather is gentle and the water is warm year-round. The area boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

So how could they not want to ride those waves as well as drive along that shoreline?

Surf Culture in San Diego
Surfing is a way of life in San Diego. It’s part of the local identity. There’s even a California Surf Museum in the northern San Diego County town of Oceanside.
You have 70 miles of open ocean coastline and just as many surf spots. So the surfing craze is everywhere, with scads of surf shops and surf schools.
Even if you’re not a surfer, you can embrace the surf culture with surf-themes shops and restaurants, and surf clothing that is worn everyday by all ages. And every sport needs its fans. You can enjoy watching surf competitions like the ASP events at Oceanside Pier and Lower Trestles.

Car Culture in San Diego
When surfers aren’t in the water or on the beach, they’re in their cars, their board strapped on the rooftop, looking for the next break.

There’s no surf mobile more classic than the Woodie, and San Diego County still boasts Woodie car shows. But the car culture goes way beyond that. What more proof do you need than the San Diego Association of Car Clubs, comprising nearly 90 clubs?

Drivers in this part of the country have fun showing off their identity through their cars. They’re in them so much with those long commutes for living in such a popular place, so why not make a statement?

They can make being on the road fun with car cruises, and they can also show off at car shows.
With that great California weather, there’s always an opportunity to thrive in the car culture.

Factors for a Great Surfer Vehicle
Let’s get practical. You might like the look of a vehicle, but will it help make surfing fun or a hassle?
You have that up-to-10-foot longboard to contend with, and it’s not going to fit in a Honda CRV even if you lay the front seat flat. You also need space for your other surfing essentials:

  • Surfboard Leash
  • Board Bag
  • Wetsuit
  • Wetsuit Booties
  • Fins
  • Hooded Towel
  • Surf Watch
  • Surf Wax

And are you the only one on your board? Maybe your doggy surfs, too. Maybe he’s on the waves so often you’re “coaching” him for a surf dog competition! You need room for him and all of his stuff, too.

Not all beaches have shower facilities and/or changing facilities. So if you go straight from the surf to the office, you may need room to change. You’ll also want an exterior that can handle driving on beaches and an interior that can resist the damage of salt water.

Vehicles to Help Surfers Ride Those Waves
These are vehicles that can turn your San Diego Daydream into your San Diego Best Day.

Ford Flex

While Ford has ended production on this vehicle to shift its focus to trucks and SUVs, you can still get one from 2019. It has a boxy shape and flat-folding seats that work well for all of your gear, and it can be outfitted with roof racks if you want to show off your board.

Price – a 2019 model starts at $30,575
Insurance – average is $121 per month


Volkswagen Bus

The poster child of surf mobiles in the 70s is back! 2013 was the last product year for the “Last Edition” Microbuses, which were known as the Volkswagen Kombi. And now the concept introduced in 2017 of the I.D. Buzz, an electric microbus, is tentatively due in showrooms in 2022.

Price – the 2022 model is expected to start at $40,000; a used Kombi (2009) can range from $9,500 to $17.050
Insurance – too early to tell for the 2022 model; a little less than $200 for a used model
Ford F-150
Considered one of the safest pickup trucks on the market, it has some powerful engine options and, of course, a lot of space for your gear.

Price – a 2020 model base price is $28,745
Insurance – average of $157 a month

Subaru Crosstrek
A great vehicle brand for surfers for being able to handle rough terrain and for having a roof rail system, this model has one of the best cargo capacities. It’s also comfy, roomy, and gets high marks for safety.

Price – a 2021 model starts at $23,295
Insurance – average of $220 a month
Hang Loose with Car Insurance Discounts

It may seem like there are just as many variables to your car insurance rate as there are San Diego County surf sites! There are many factors not in your control that determine your rate (age, address, driving history, commute to work, and whether or not you have a high-risk job).

But at least in California, you’re in one of only three states (Hawaii and Massachusetts are the other two), that does not allow insurers to use your credit score in their underwriting process when determining your rate.

But you can get yourself an epic decrease by looking into as many of these factors as possible:

  • Raise your deductible
  • Take a defensive driving course
  • Look into customized insurance like pay-as-you-go (pay-per-mile)
  • Ask about bundling (car insurance and home insurance with the same company), electronic billing, auto-pay, full-pay, safe driver, good student, and occupation discounts
  • Ask your agent about all possible ways to save

If you’re not satisfied with your current car insurance company, shop around by starting with free, online quotes. No two companies give the same price, so you could save hundreds of dollars with just this step.

So just as you put thought into the best board for you, do the same for the best surf-friendly vehicle and insurance for you. Then you will indeed live in paradise!


Karen Condor is a former Southern California resident who is a travel writer for the car insurance comparison site, CarInsuranceComparison.com.