Hot spot: Doheny State Beach (www.parks.ca.gov) features mellow, beginner-friendly waves and overnight camping. Day-use parking $15; camping $35 to $60 a night.
Best rentals: Infinity Surfboards (www.infinitysurf.com), Dana Point, Calif., (949) 661-6699; $40 a day.
Best eats: For authentic Mexican food on a surfer's budget, head to La Tienda in San Clemente. (949) 366-2924.