We propose a nonparametric approach to learning of principal surfaces based on an unsupervised formulation of the Nadaraya-Watson kernel regression estimator. As compared with previous approaches to principal curves and surfaces, the new method offers several advantages: first, it provides a practical solution to the model selection problem because all parameters can be estimated by leave-one-out cross-validation without additional computational cost. In addition, our approach allows for a convenient incorporation of nonlinear spectral methods for parameter initialization, beyond classical initializations based on linear PCA. Furthermore, it shows a simple way to fit principal surfaces in general feature spaces, beyond the usual data space setup. The experimental results illustrate these convenient features on simulated and real data.