Yes surfing is harder to learn. But whats harder to master? dont immedietly say surfing because it not true bdyboarding has manuevers in that are insanly hard check out jeff hubbards dk el rolo.
Yes any body can pick up a body board and catch a wave but not everyone is going to pick up a bodyboard and pull off a 720 in dk or an el rolo straight out.
Another thing i noticed a whle back. In san diego we had a huge winter swell in december the waves were pumping. Every surfer i spoke to swore blind that they were sufing the waves in ocean beach well i got news i was out that day and saw about 5 or six surfers where were all the hordes of people huh ( i call those people smurfers
As far as learning the rules i think most surfers need to revize this. If its small surf then yeah expect to get mobbed by a bucnh of tourists on polystyrene. If its big you may see one or two bb's out there normally locals anyway.
Dont knock body boarding just beacuse surfing is to begin with harder to learn. When it all equals out they both have their charms if you can bodyboard and surf really well then you truelly are a wave warrior ( most world class bb's are actually very good surfers its just preference that they go bbing).
At the end of the day whatever gives you the most enjoyement is what you will do. I happen to be learning to surf and hopefully one day i will be good at both.