In the spring you can definitely start taking beginner lessons at Cowell's Beach in Santa Cruz. Thats a great beginner spot. I also have seen plenty of classes and beginners out at Capitola as well. You'll have to head over to Santa Cruz no matter what to really find a good beginner surf spot around here that will teach classes and be a comfortable break for you. I know there are also summer lessons often at Linda Mar beach in Pacifica, but if you are going to head all the way up there, I would certainly suggest Santa Cruz instead. Hope that helps.
Hi David. I took a lesson through the Log Shop up in Pacifica (I live in the city), and was quite happy with it. I actually think Linda Mar and Santa Cruz are about the same distance from Palo Alto, if Pacifica isn't closer. Linda Mar's a good place to learn and practice, though once the weather gets warm, it's as crowded as the Financial District. Again, though, I'd be surprised if this were any different on any other beginner beach driveable from P.A.