I recently had my first waves experience this season and loved it - and learned a lot.
My advice is probably obvious for people who surf.. be very wary of a loose board between you and the waves. It will thump you!
It happened to me twice - once on the back of the head during recovery after faceplanting (so glad i wear a helmet!), and again into the face/chest just as i was reaching for the board. Try to time board recovery from the side or upwind/wave.
cleepa- great advise for getting over waves - I found myself flying off the top of peaks while heading out, then pearling on the backside. I later noticed some more experienced riders almost squat on their back foot as they come up to to the peak, then do a powerstroke.