I just moved to the area and wanted to try surfing. I booked a private lesson since it's only $10 more per hour for private vs. group. When I showed up, I was glad I booked private, because all of the group lessons were young kids. The lesson was great, my instructor was a passionate surfer, and a good teacher. They have everything you need, I just wore my swimsuit, plenty of sunscreen, and I brought a towel. the water was clean and warm. The beach is fairly shallow, and the sand is soft and clean. I'd taken lessons once in Puerto Rico, and was told there not to step on the ocean floor because I'd get cut by coral, but not here in Carolina Beach. Overall, I would recommend a surf lesson to anyone wanting to try something new, whether they're a local or a visitor.
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