Let’s be honest, drive up to the shore, get out of your car, cast. It doesn’t get much simpler than this for ocean fishing. If you are looking to land a few tasty bites, light tackle is probably best. You’ll notice a lot of long poles to help cast way out past the surf, but that’s not really necessary. You can have a fun time catching barred surf perch, corbina, and even sand bass or kelp bass with a 6 foot pole. I like medium-light action poles paired up with light line (think 4-8lb test). Weights of up to 1/2 oz. tend to work well for the surf species. I like fresh sand crabs or ghost shrimp for bait. Gulp camo-worms tend to work well also. I tend to use pretty small hooks in the 6-8 range. Treble hooks will catch more fish in my experience, but they are much harder to release if you don’t want them. I stick to a single hook that is seriously sharp!
If you are looking to target larger surf species, get out the big guns. You can target halibut or sharks from the surf also. Since it is hard to carry live sardines on shore, you will probably want some good lures in the 6-8″ range. Heavier line, 12-20lb, is going to be needed to wrestle the bigger fish from the surf. Additionally, halibut may hang in skinny water, 2-3 feet, but sharks are typically a bit deeper. Sharks are scavengers so you can use frozen/cut bait to target them. As usual, you are going to want to tailor your hook size to the size of the fish. Larger species will swallow a 2/0-6/0 depending on their size. I try to go for the smallest hook that should work and move up if I am loosing the line.