If you're a beginner, consider paddling in the waves off Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, Tourmaline Surfing Park, La Jolla Shores, Del Mar, or Oceanside. More experienced surfers usually head for Sunset Cliffs, La Jolla reef breaks, Black's Beach, or Swami's in Encinitas. All necessary equipment is included in the cost of all surfing schools. Beach-area Y's offer surf lessons and surf camp in the summer months and during spring break.
Hike Bike Kayak San Diego. Sign up for group and private lessons in La Jolla year-round. If you know what you're doing but didn't bring your stick, this outfitter rents boards, too. 2222 Ave. de la Playa, La Jolla, San Diego, CA, 92037. 858/551–9510. www.hikebikekayak.com.
Kahuna Bob's Surf School. "Kahuna Bob" himself, one of San Diego's veteran surf instructors, conducts two-hour lessons at Beacon's Beach in Encinitas seven days a week; in summer there's a surf camp for kids. Beacon's Beach, 948 Neptune Ave., Encinitas, CA, 92024. 760/721–7700 or 800/524–8627. www.kahunabob.com.
San Diego Surfing Academy. Choose from private and group lessons and customizable surf camps for teens, kids, and adults. Instructional videos are also available online. The academy, which has been running since 1995, is based near South Carlsbad State Beach and meets for lessons at Seapointe Resort in Carlsbad. Near South Carlsbad State Beach, Carlsbad, CA, 92008. 760/230–1474 or 800/447–7873. www.surfingacademy.com.
Surf Diva Surf School. Check out clinics, surf camps, and private lessons especially formulated for girls and women. Most clinics and trips are for women only, but there are some co-ed options. Guys can also book private lessons from the nationally recognized staff. Surf Diva is also home to a boutique that sells surf and standup paddle board equipment, as well as sundresses and clothing for men and and children. 2160 Ave. de la Playa, La Jolla, San Diego, CA, 92037. 858/454–8273. www.surfdiva.com.
Menehune Surf School. This 10-year-old surf school founded by local school teachers provides surf lessons as well as paddleboard and surfboard rentals. Private or family lessons can be aranged (from $70 per person for one hour). Menehune Surf also offers popular surf camps for kids every summer from June through August at three locations: La Jolla Shores, Del Mar, and Mission Beach. 2222 Ave. De La Playa, La Jolla, San Diego, CA, 92037. 866/425–2925. www.menehunesurf.com.
Cheap Rentals Mission Beach. Many local surf shops rent both surf and bodyboards. Cheap Rentals Mission Beach is right off the boardwalk, just steps from the waves. It rents wet suits, bodyboards, and skimboards in addition to soft surfboards and long and short fiberglass rides. It also has good hourly to weekly pricing on paddleboards and accessories. 3689 Mission Blvd., Mission Beach, San Diego, CA, 92108. 858/488–9070 or 800/941–7761. www.cheap-rentals.com.
Hansen's. A short walk from Swami's beach, Hansen's is one of San Diego's oldest and most popular surf shops. It has an extensive selection of boards, wet suits, and clothing for sale, and a rental department as well. 1105 S. Coast Hwy. 101, Encinitas, CA, 92024. 760/753–6595. www.hansensurf.com.