Never ridden a wave before? Always wanted to? Check out one of San Diego’s  many surf schools. You’ll go to a small-wave beach, learn the basics of the sport on dry land, then paddle out for the first time. Most schools promise to get you up and riding (if only for a few seconds) the very first time!
Or if you’ve come to Southern California specifically to surf, check with the schools about multi-day, all-inclusive (lodging too!) “surf camps” that get you surfing all day, every day for a few days or a whole week.
Surfari (3740 Mission Blvd., 858/337-3287, www.surfarisurf.com , $50/day group lesson, $75/day private lesson, start times 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.) was started by competitive surfer Rick Gehris and operates close to downtown San Diego  at Mission Beach. Each 2.5-hour lesson includes land instruction, interactive in-the-water instruction, and an hour afterward on your own to play. Regular group lessons happen almost every day of the year. For a more intense learning experience, book a discounted three-day lesson series.
The San Diego Surfing Academy (800/447-7873, www.surfingacademy.com , $60/group lesson, $55/hour private) runs year-round at the north end of South Carlsbad State Beach Campgrounds. You must make an appointment to take lessons with the SDSA, but the quality of instruction makes it worth the bother. All equipment is included in the fee—perfect for hours of fun surfing the waves of the North Coast.
With two-hour group classes and by-the-hour private lessons, this safety-oriented school makes certain you’ll know what you’re doing out there in the surf. If you want to take your surfing to the next level, look into SDSA’s surf camps, which include meals, tent cabin lodgings, and photos of you out on your board.
If you’re female, and you want to learn to surf but you find the male-dominated sport intimidating, come out to Surf Diva (2160 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla, 858/454-8273, www.surfdiva.com , $65/hour private lessons, $135/two-day clinic). The first all-women’s surf school in the world, Surf Diva creates an estrogen-friendly, supportive atmosphere for girls ages five and up to learn the ins and outs of the waves at La Jolla Shores. (The “Guys on the Side” semi-private and group lessons include men too!)
Book a private lesson, or take a two- to five-day clinic to get serious about the sport. Lessons at Surf Diva can make a fun and creative start to your best friend’s bachelorette party!