Beach, Atlantic & California: What's the Difference?

Loyd Rozzo

Owner of Siesta Campers

Our modern VW camper van models:

  • The VW Siesta Beach camper van
  • The VW Siesta Atlantic camper van
  • The VW California camper van

It is more than likely you’ve been weighing up the pros and cons of our Beach, Atlantic and California modern VW camper vans. We know you’re not alone in this, so let’s see if we can help with this little guide. 

Well, let’s start by saying that all of our Beach and Atlantic models are built by us and all based on the same engine gearbox configuration; the VW Transporter T6 Blue Motion, with 114 BHP and a 5-speed manual gearbox. We chose this configuration because it gives ample power for a fully laden camper. It drives and accelerates like a modern car, the driving position is comfortable with the gear shift coming out of the dashboard. We also got the VW factory to add some extras like the individual front seats, front and rear parking sensors displayed on the full-colour dash screen and the VW Auxiliary battery.

The VW Siesta Beach camper van

Main features:

  • Sleeps 2 adults
  • Transmission: Manual
  • Shower: Rear pull out shower
  • Fridge: Cooler
  • Cooker: 2 burner gas hob & sink

Siesta Beach modern VW camper van.

The Beach does not have a bed in the upper tent area making it ideal for 2 people. Because of the bed delete, there is much move overhead space available for taller individuals! There is also a front hammock option available with both the Beach and Atlantic vans for 1 child. This should really only be considered for kids up to 9 years old and 1.5m height. The cab areas are identical so no difference there. The cupboards are aluminium modular units made for us by a top specialist in the UK. 

Modern VW camper van interior.

The Beach has a smaller amount of storage space in the back cupboards, this makes it ideal for those travelling light. if you're just living out of your bags for a week then hey no problem, and you do have more space to move inside the camper because of this. There is a big open space under the bed where many people keep luggage or surfboards that can slide through under the bed. You can fit an 8’ board under this bed.

Siesta Beach storage space.

The Beach has the same cooker and sinks as the Atlantic and an equal amount of water storage: 50-litre tank. They both feature a pull-out power shower from the rear which is ideal for rinsing off after the beach. The fridge in the Beach is a cooler it doesn’t have a compressor like the Atlantic and California, this essentially means it will only keep things cooler than ambient temperature by 20c. It will still keep the beers cool. Just not as ice cold as the Atlantic or California.

The bed is the same size as the Atlantic 115cm x 2.00m,  It doesn't slide on rails like the Atlantic toward the front of the cab allowing the rear passengers to be closer to the front like in a normal car, which is preferable if you want to keep the kids in check.

The VW Siesta Atlantic camper van

Main features:

  • Sleeps: 4 adults
  • Transmission: Manual
  • Shower: Rear pull out shower
  • Fridge: Compressor fridge
  • Cooker: 2 burner gas hob & sink

The Atlantic modern Volkswagen camper van.

The Atlantic makes excellent use of the space available with plenty of cleverly designed storage. Backlit cupboards makes it easy to find things at night. The construction of the units are solid and feels like a proper well-constructed motorhome.

LED lighting under the worktop lights give a modern ambience to the space. Big bedding cupboards at the back provide ample space for bedding for a family of four. Please remember though these vans are still not ideal for big hard suitcases. The living area is only 3m by 2.20m so be practical about what you bring.

 If you're arriving anywhere from June up until September and your staying in the south then  you will not be needing coats, just a sweatshirt for the cooler nights on the west coast.

Mother and daughter relaxing in the upper bed of the Atlantic camper van.

The Atlantic has a roof bed in the pop top area, an ideal space that the kids will love. The top bed is also suitable for adults. Being able to sleep 4 adults comfortably is one of the main differences between the Atlantic and the Beach camper vans. 

The top bed area pushes up out of the way during the day so you can have a spacious area perfect for cooking and relaxing.  Younger children or babies may be better suited to the lower bed or the hammock that utilises the front seats.

The fridge in the Atlantic is a Dometic 50l compressor fridge. It is very efficient and doesn’t consume lots of power from the auxiliary battery. The 120w solar panel that's fitted on the roof assures that while the sun is shining the fridge is getting plenty of power! Many people put the fridge up to maximum whilst connected to mains power on the campsite and then turn it down when disconnected. This keeps things fresher a lot longer when you're out for the day.

The Atlantic camper van

The side awning is another upgrade specific to the Atlantics and Californias (Siesta Beach excluded). This is easily retracted with a handle that fits into the awning and then cranked out. It reaches out to around 2.5m giving you lots of shade. It really is an ideal place to put your tables and chairs and chill during a hot summer day.

The VW California camper van

Main features:

  • Sleeps: 4 adults
  • Transmission: Manual or Automatic
  • Shower: Solar shower (optional)
  • Fridge: 12v compressor fridge
  • Cooker: 2 burner gas hob & sink

The California modern VW camper van exterior.

For the ultimate modern VW camper van experience in Portugal, the California is your best choice. It has has become an icon of the open road since 1988 and reached cult-like status with a massive following in Europe. When you pull onto a campsite or car park you will receive admiring glances from other fellow VW aficionados. It’s an expensive piece of machinery with entry prices at €60,000.

The VW California is made entirely by VW, from the curtains to the chairs it’s all put together in their factory in Hanover. It’s Volkswagen through and through. You can imagine the research and development that’s gone into this van. There’s not a scrap of wasted space and It really is the Swiss army knife of camper vans! The table neatly stores inside the door panel and the deck chairs are stowed in a tidy pocket in the rear tailgate. There’s an LCD control panel in the cab area that tells you how cold the fridge is, how much charge is left in the battery, and how full the waste and the freshwater water tanks are. It comes from the factory with a roll-out sunshade. The interior fabrics are finished in a very light fabric and you sense you are sitting in something very modern and spacious. The Interior blinds are concealed behind the trim and can be pulled into position very quickly, making the van cosy at night without fumbling around for the black out shades.

Modern VW camper van interior.

We have coined our expression for this van in the workshop and have declared it ”engineered light” This essentially means that we find the fixtures and fittings a bit weak, things break quite easily and the plastics cost a lot of money. If you think your kids may be a bit wild for it, then we would recommend the Siesta Atlantic. It’s much more resilient and can take a good hard living. The California comes with a 40L fridge and it keeps it chugging away via 2 auxiliary batteries, this is one more battery than our Atlantic. 

The California dash screen.

We order our Californias from the factory with front & rear parking sensors hooked up to the big dash screen. It also has The neat “CAR PLAY” system meaning you can run your apps such as “Google maps”  and “Spotify” on the full-colour stereo screen for better visibility.

We also order these modern VW camper vans with 150BHP and 6 speed, to give you the full luxurious driving experience. This is also the only of the tree vans that offers a choice between manual or DSG auto, which makes driving this van easy to drive and shift gears. The VW DSG is unlike any other auto box in the way it has already predicted your next gear and is already selected, this makes acceleration silky smooth couple this with the Cruise control and you can really see why this is the ultimate van if you want to see the whole of Portugal in complete comfort and style.

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