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Dog Beach, Coronado

Learning the pecking order can be a humiliating experience. Getting "stink eye" (being stared down for robbing a wave or cutting someone off) or being called "kook" or "Barney" can ruin one's day. Surfers are a peaceful breed, when on land. Out in the water, it's survival of the most "aggro." But Coronado has a harmonious proving ground for the would-be surfer. It's not the best wave in San Diego, but about a mile north of the Hotel Del the surfer population is light and the waves break closer to shore. These qualities bode well for beginners. Paddling out's a breeze, there's no pecking order or elitism in the water, and most of the eyes watching the surf are doggie eyes. Plenty of parking, too.

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