The basics of surfing

Here's what you need to getting started on the waves
Ken McAlpine

Surfboard. You'll want a board you can handle: Longer, wider, and thicker is easier. Board size also depends on the height and weight of the rider: Bigger surfers generally ride bigger boards. Find a good surf shop and ask lots of questions. New long boards range from $450 to $650―for beginners, a good used board ($250 to $375) may be a better option. Ed Guzman likes softer foam boards for the first few months of learning.

Wet suit. What you'll need depends on where and when you'll surf: thinner for Southern California, thicker farther north. Depending on thickness and stitching, suits range from $240 to $385. Buy new―old wet suits tend to be leaky and cold. Depending on how cold the water is, you may also need wet-suit booties ($40) and gloves ($30).

Surf's up
Surf schools

Leash. Some experts don't wear a leash, but leashes are a must. Get a good one ($25).

Rash Guard. This soft (nylon or polypropylene) undergarment ($22 to $35) is worn under the wet suit to stop the rubber suit from rubbing directly on the skin and giving you rashes.