An 8-wt with fast action will provide a good all around platform for most surf fishing. It will cut through the wind and provide enough backbone to fight fish in rough water conditions. This is a good time to check out the Xi3 from Sage. I've seen them discounted recently, and it looks like Sage has introduced a new saltwater rod, which I assume is replacing the Xi3. That would mean close out prices may be in the cards.
The Xi3 is purpose-built for the salt and has a very smooth, fast action. It is a wonderful rod to cast with the right line married to it.
As far as reels, it depends on your budget. Most of today's reels out there will fit the bill as long as you follow fq13's advice and give them proper care. Keep in mind that the higher end saltwater reels were designed and built to withstand many years of harsh conditions.
Once you fish the surf, you'll likely want to make a habit of doing so. My advice would be to invest in gear that will do the job consistently without fail.
I use my surf gear for largemouth bass as well, so your rig does not have to be a one-trick pony.
My rigs are Sage Xi3 and Z-Axis rods with Abel and Ross reels. Tibor, Bauer, Nautilus, Charlton, Hatch, Hardy, and Galvan also make quality reels that will keep you smiling out there and have the reputations of solid companies that will back up that investment you make with good customer service.