Once you are ready to head out and try to ride your first waves, you had better hope that you have done your homework, or that a friend has helped you choose your board. Improper board selection can doom the go-out before it even gets started.
I recommend a soft-Doyle style surfboard for the first three or four go-outs. They are just what the doctor ordered ... thick, wide, round, floaty and soft. I wish I could have used one back in 1963. Choose a soft-board, 2 1/2 to 3 feet taller than yourself. These boards come in 6 inch increments, so start big at first then scale down as your technique, strength and skills improve.
After your fundamental days on a "softie" you can either buy a new or used fiberglass surfboard, or you can rent a soft-top as a transition board. These boards are soft on top and the rail, with a hard surface on the bottom. Try it a few times on different sized boards, so when you do purchase your 'REAL' board it will be the right size for you.
If a soft-board isn't an option when you start, choose the thickest, roundest board to about three feet over your head in length. Stay inside and avoid pearling, and good luck.
In southern California, where I live, you will also need a wetsuit to stay warm most of the year. The basic rule of thumb on how much suit is enough: under 63 degree water temp then a full suit is recommended, over 64 degree water temp a spring suit should do, and over 70 degree water temp a swim suit will be ideal. Of course, this may vary as do the people who surf. Thinner people will generally need more suit. Kahuna Bob says, "be warm, as freezing cold people do not surf very well."
Concerning wetsuits: Do not buy an older used suit, as the wetsuits made today are far warmer and more comfortable than in years past. Whatever brand you like, remember: you get what you pay for. Saving a few bucks can make you the coldest person in the water, and that is not fun!
You will also need a surf leash, or you are going to get really good at body-surfing. The leash should be about the same length as your board. Other than wax, or some other form of traction you should be set. The rest of the stuff is optional. Booties, hoods, gloves, rashguards, hats, webs etc. are not essential for the beginner, but you may find these items nice to own in your future of surfing.
If you are interested in learning the great sport of surfing, Kahuna Bob's Surf School offers year round lessons at an affordable price, which does include all of the right stuff, BOARDS, LEASHES, WETSUITS and of course the instruction. What better way to get started. Give us a call and we will get you up and surfing in no time.