For beginning surfing, you preferably a malibu type surfboard or maybe a soft foam board and a suitable beach with no coral in the bottom and no major "rips" (sea currents that take you out into the sea). So we are preferably talking about a beach break.

First you should learn to catch waves that are already broken (foam on top..) Try to catch these waves and surf on them in roughly the same direction that the wave is breaking. There are 4 basic steps:

  1. spot a wave you want to catch and line up your surfboard so that you are facing to the direction of the wave, lying down on your stomach. Your feet should be quite close to the rear end of the surfboard. If you are too close to the front, bigger waves will just wash over you.
  2. Start paddling in the direction of the wave so that when it catches you, you have enough speed so that you can catch the wave by letting it accelerate you to its own speed.
  3. When you feel that the wave is starting to pass under you, the most important thing is probably maintaining the front/back balance so that you lean forward enough that the wave gets to accelerate you, but not enough to topple over.

    Stay lying on the board, but just as you feel the wave beginning to catch up with you, stop paddling and put your hands almost as if you were beginning to do pushups, but a bit closer to your feet (picture a below may provide some guidance). Try to find a position where you can raise your upper body by pushing your hands straight with the minimum effort.

    Now when the wave reaches you, you can push down on your hands a bit, lean forwards and balance on the wave with your hands and lower body. If you feel like the wave may be getting away, just lean forwards a bit more. And of course vice versa if you feel the wave may be about to throw you over.

    If you catch the wave, you can stay in this position and let the wave carry you to the shore. It is quite fun, but eventually you'll probably want to stand up, which brings us to the next step.

  4. Standing up. You may want to practice this on dry land before trying it out on waves. The idea is to start from the position in step 3 where you are on the surfboard with your hands straight (see picture a), and quickly bounce up on your feet. Speed is not that essential in the beginning, it is more important to maintain good balance. In the final position the feet should be slightly closer to the rear end of the surfboard than the front end. This may require some experimentation, so take it easy..

    Here is one way to do the standing up part from the position in picture a: I'll assume you want to stand left foot in front, so reverse if needed: Bring your right foot up on the board maybe close to your left knee (picture b). You can curve your right knee quite a lot, maybe a bit more than in the picture below. Now, from this position it should be quite easy to bring your left foot from behind you and on the board in front of your right foot. And while you are doing this you should also bounce up of course. (Picture c). While you are standing on the board, you should bend your knees somewhat to maintain good balance.

  5. Now learn more from somewhere else, because I only have one week of surfing experience (corrections welcome!)

     a           ()           | Note: It is not necessary to lift your pelvis very much|
                -||           | even though it appears so in this picture.        
           ---/ //            | Also the hand position is
          ------------        | maybe a bit off
    b () -|| ---/ // --\/--------

    c () /||| |||\ /\ | | -----------