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Mele Saili’s Surf Faves

A Pro’s Guide to Surfing San Diego

San Diego is a surfer’s dream, from easy beginner swells to challenging waves for the experts to rip. One of those experts is pro surfer Mele Saili. A San Diego local, she knows San Diego’s surf scene better than anyone, and she’s giving her take on the best of the best.

Mele’s Favorite… San Diego surf spot

  • There are as many types of surf spots as there are types of surfers—different skill levels, different crowds, different vibes—all along the coast in San Diego. Mele’s favorite is Swami’s, an iconic and internationally-known point break surf spot in Encinitas. With cliffs towering above the beach, it’s truly beautiful in every direction.

Mele’s Favorite… childhood surf spot

  • Growing up in San Diego, Mele knows all the surf spots. She grew up surfing in Pacific Beach. Her favorite spots were anywhere between Crystal Pier and PB Point, and on any given day you still might find Mele there, riding the waves of her stomping ground.

Mele’s Favorite… beginner surf spot

  • Mele’s favorite place to take beginners is Tourmaline Surf Park in north Pacific Beach. She says that the slower, softer waves allow most people to get their bearings and find their way into surfing. In fact, it’s one of the places where she first surfed.

Mele’s Favorite… expert surf spot

  • When Mele’s looking for a more challenging wave, she heads to Black’s Beach, a hidden gem of San Diego located just north of La Jolla Shores. Mele finds these waves among the most exciting in the area

Mele’s Favorite… hang-out beach

  • Mele’s favorite beach to relax on—maybe before or after a surf sesh—is in La Jolla. With long stretches of white sand and beautiful surroundings, it’s not hard to see why.

Mele’s Favorite… surf shop

  • With great surfing comes great surf shops. One of Mele’s favorites is Atacama Surf Shop, a Little Italy store that features boards by many local shapers and collaborations with local artists. Her other favorite is Bird’s Surf Shed, an iconic local surf shop that’s just as much a museum or shrine to surfing as it is a store.

Mele’s Favorite… post-surf grub spot

  • There’s a taco shop called Oscar’s Mexican Seafood on Turquoise Street in Pacific Beach, just blocks away from Tourmaline Surf Park. It’s Mele’s favorite place to chow down after surfing. “Best tacos of all time,” she says.

Mele’s Favorite… local surf brands

  • Mele grew up in the local surf culture—and not just on the beach. Her grandfather was the “Gordon” in the internationally popular Gordon & Smith Surfboards company. With so many surf enthusiasts in the area, it only makes sense that San Diego is a hub for companies started by locals who turned their passion into their occupation. Her favorite local companies (“hands down,” she says) include Seea (awesome women’s swim and surf wear) and Thread Spun (amazing handmade surfboard bags).

Mele’s Favorite… surf-inspired bars and restaurants

  • The surf culture is rich in San Diego, and that style and inspiration can be seen in many surf-themed bars and restaurants throughout town. Mele’s favorites are Kono’s Cafe (a great breakfast spot right next to Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach) and Taco Surf, just a few blocks away. Both are adorned with surfboards and filled with hungry surfers—and nostalgia for Mele.

Mele’s Favorite… place to watch surfers from land

  • Mele always has fun watching surfers from the top of Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. “You feel like you’re out there with them… because you kinda are!” she says.

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