I choose to go with a private lesson for my first time and I'm glad I did. I don't think it would of been as successful in a small group.
They picked me up from my hotel and we went to the shop. After a little bit of paperwork, they provided me with a locker key and a rash guard. I met my instructor and off we went to the beach across the street. Not far at all.
After some basic instruction on the beach we set out into the water. I expected to fall down most of the time and not be very good, but I was surprised and surfed many waves and had a great time. The instructor(Lei?) was patience and very knowledgeable. There was also a guy running around with a camera takes pictures and video which you can buy later for only $15. The quality was very good, so I went for that. After that was all settled I had to wait for some other people to wrap up their business before being taken back to my resort.
I will totally do this again, and probably do another private lesson with the same company. To complete newbies like myself, I would warn you it is exhausting!
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