surf earplugs on a surfboard

Surfing and Ears

Surfing is a sport that requires spending countless hours in a completely different element as we humans are used to.

Our ears are not quite adapted to consistent ‘water-logging‘ as we spend 99.9%+ of the time on land. Sure, the awesome fact is that our bodies adapt to our lifestyles, but there are a few downsides to surfing. Whether you swim or surf on a regular basis, your chances of getting an ear infection are quite considerable. Even though most minor infections heal over time, long-term exposure to cold water can increase the risk of a serious infection.

surfer waiting to get in
Prevention is the key!

Symptoms of the swimmer’s / surfer’s ear

  • Water gets stuck in the ears
  • Ear pain
  • Loss of hearing
  • Pressure in ears
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Ringing in the ears

Main causes of the surfer’s ear – excessive exposure to 

  • Coldwater
  • Dirt
  • Wind
  • Bacteria

Swimmer’s/surfer’s ear – ‘Exostoses

“A condition where the bone of the ear canal develops multiple bony growths called exostoses. Over time, this can eventually cause a partial or complete blockage of the ear canal. The condition is primarily caused by prolonged exposure to cold water or wind. Coldwater surfers are six times more likely to get surfer’s ear than warm water surfers.”

deer with large ears chewing something

What to do when your ears start to hurt?

If you want to prevent visits to the doctor, it is strongly advised to wear a pair of earplugs on a regular basis.

When the water gets trapped in the narrow ear canals, an infection is quick to set in and cause a lot of unwanted trouble. The worst-case scenario is when 90% of the ear canal is blocked, which in fact can cause hearing loss. The only way to get rid of it is a surgical intervention to remove the bony growth in the ear.

So – if you don’t want your ear canal to be introduced to a very small chisel or a drill – check out the best earplugs for surfing down below!


Here are the different types of Best Earplugs for Surfing

In order to prevent the surfers’ ears, check out the following ear protection

Swimming earplugs are made of rubber

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1. SURF EARS 3.0

surfears 3.0 surfing ear plugs

Let sound in – keep water out

The most advanced protection you could get to prevent the swimmer’s ear. SurfEars is designed by cold-water surfers from Sweden. By today, SurfEars earbuds are used all over the world by thousands of conscious surfers. What set’s those apart from any other regular silicone earplugs is obviously the ergonomic fit and the feature which allows us to hear the surroundings.

  • Reusable
  • Awesome fit
  • Carry bag included
  • Wired

You don’t have to worry about losing them even after a heavy wipeout as the fit on those floatable earbuds is designed for surfing, and the wipe-out is obviously part of that!

Check Price at


2. HONBAY – 6 pairs of rubber earplugs

silicone ear plugs

Silicone earplugs are one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to protect your ears when surfing. Before using this type of earplug, you can simply “lube” the plugs on your tongue before plugging them in for the best fit. I’ve mainly used this type of earplugs as it quiets the rough environment around you.

  • Material: Soft, non-toxic silicone
  • Quantity: 6pairs – 12pcs
  • 6 different colors as shown

When using these – you hear perfectly well the highs and lows. Matter of fact, it’s like a totally different environment when you are “plugged in” the water. If you are surfing in the warm water and it starts to feel limiting, you can remove the earplugs and put it in your boardshorts’ pocket, while surfing in a wetsuit – there’s always somewhere to chuck those in.

Besides surfing, you can use this ear protection when on a plain or simply want to zone off before going to sleep!

Check Price at


3. HEARPROTEK – Swimming earplugs


ergonomic silicone ear plugs for swimming and surfing

Ergonomic design to keep your ears protected when doing any water-related activity. Perfect for those who have very sensitive ears or simply want comfortable and specifically designed earplugs.

  • Snug fit
  • Protect against swimmer’s / surfer’s ear
  • Designed for: Swimming/Jet-skiing/Diving/Kayaking
  • 3 different colors available

Awesome alternative to basic “rubber” earplugs. If you’ve ever owned a pair of high-quality in-ear headphones – you’ll know the difference in that kind of shape. Check out their other products at the bottom of the Amazon link for further options for kids and different shapes!

Check Price at


Alternative methods: Did you know, that rubbing silver/gold rings can cure a sty when you feel it coming? Yes, it’s a true fact. Not so sure how it helps on a serious swimmer’s ear infection, but it has done a great job fighting with bacteria for centuries!


Swimmers’ Ear Drops

Now if you want to be extra careful, having a tiny bottle of ear drops that are widely used among swimmers, check out the options down below!

Better to be safe than sorry!

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Hylands – Earache drops


eardrops for earache

  • Relieves earache symptoms such as fever, pain, throbbing, irritability, and sleeplessness associated with searches
  • Relieves common pain and itching of ‘swimmers’ ear
  • Up to 150 drops in a bottle
  • No known side-effects
  • No conflict with any medications you may be taking
  • Family-owned Hyland’s has been making premier homeopathic products since 1903

Check Price at


Alternative methods to cure an ear infection

Before the whole pharmaceutical industry, our ancestors have used all sorts of plants and herbs to cure diseases and infections.

  • GARLIC – Simply slice a sleeve of garlic and place it in your ear for 5-10 minutes. Garlic is known the be super anti-bacterial and it can fight off the bacteria in ways you can’t imagine. I’ve tried it myself, and it indeed works for me!
  • GINGER – Consuming any form of ginger works well to fight off diseases. So if you are not feeling 100% after a surf session, you might want to mix ginger and honey to boost your immune system
  • HONEY – Yet another super-food that’s used to prevent any sort of infection. Wait, don’t just start rubbing honey in your ears, it’s consumed orally!

Honey on White Bowl



Why do surfers wear earplugs?
– To prevent ear infections and any damage caused by heavy wipeouts.

Can I use regular noise-canceling earplugs for surfing?
– If you want those foam earplugs to swell up like tampons in your ear – you can wear standard earplugs. If not, use proper silicone earplugs. Noise-canceling earplugs are not waterproof – which is the main point of earplugs for water sports.

Can a surfer’s ear cause hearing loss?
– After long exposure and untreated infections, it can cause long-term hearing loss, which can be fixed with surgical intervention.

Is the surfer’s ear painful?
– A mild ear infection can go unnoticed, while a more serious infection can cause a lot of pain. And we all know that any kind of pain in the head area is one of the worst!

How much does average ear surgery cost?
– Up to $3000+



In order to stay well and maintain a healthy physique, make sure to listen to your body. Intense surf sessions can drain your body from vitamins which leads your drained body to fight off the infection.

Any infection damages your body, while some say it strengthens the immune system in the long run. Surfing expects you to stay in top-physique – so when you want to minimize the recovery time and increase your stamina – living a healthy lifestyle is the key!

  • Stay healthy by eating and sleeping well
  • Use earplugs to prevent an ear infection
  • Get ear drops as a back-up safety


Read next

Surfing and Eyes
Short-sightedness & red sting.

Most Common Surf Injuries
And how to avoid them.

Surf Safety Guide

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I created Nulltuul to share my experience, research and analysis with other surf enthusiasts out there. If I'm not surfing on my travels - I like to photograph waves, surfers, and the surf lifestyle in general.

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