A Quick Summary
Yes, you can snorkel with earplugs. As long as you stay at the ocean surface, there’s no need to equalize the air space they create. Diving down with your snorkel gear should be avoided with ear plugs. The same goes for scuba diving. Let’s get into the details!
Reasons To Wear Earplugs
Earplugs help people out in several ways. Some simply wear them once in a while for noise canceling purposes, like going to a concert for example. This avoids ear injuries or even hearing loss.
Heavy winds or more extreme conditions like sandstorms can damage our ears. Not only from a physical point of view, but also in an acoustic way. Heavy winds tend to make a certain noise that can really bring damage to your ears. That’s why some people wear earplugs whenever they drive a convertible.
Wherever they come from, there’s a chance they’ll get stuck in your ear and accumulate over time. After a while your ear feels a bit “heavy” because it’s filled up with this “dirt”. As a consequence, your ability to hear things clearly decreases.
Last but not least on the list we have water accumulation. It’s probably why you’re here in the first place. Whenever we swim or snorkel, there’s a certain amount of water entering our ears. Once the activity is over we get rid of it one way or the other. If however some water is able to stay in your outer ear canal, it can cause problems. Since the area remains moist, there’s a great opportunity for bacterial growth. The infection that follows is also known as “Swimmer’s Ear”.
Let’s just say this: If you experience ear problems, then what’s the point of snorkeling? You’ll only come out worse. Make sure your experience is a good one! Especially if it’s your first try!
Most snorkelers stay afloat so why dive down? Sure, there could be something interesting to see, but if you stay in shallow water you will be just fine.
Why You Shouldn’t Dive Down With Earplugs
Let’s first say this: If you snorkel at the ocean surface you’ll be just fine to snorkel with earplugs.
The further you dive down, the higher the pressure. Many websites explain this in more detail like this article at National Ocean Service. As long as you stay at the surface, you’re surrounded by the same pressure that you’d experience on the shore. Nothing to worry about.
Once you dive down, even if it’s just a few feet, the pressure already starts to increase. You’ll most likely feel these compressive forces on your body and eardrums. In fact, your eardrums bend inwards because of the negative pressure inside your ear.
Inner Ear Air Equalization
What you want to do is add some air to your inner ear. This will neutralize the negative pressure and bends your eardrum back into position. You do this by equalizing through the eustachian tubes. Once you head back to the ocean surface, the air within your inner ear will expand. However, it will find it’s way out of your ears by it’s own. Here’s a short video that explains all of this much better:
If you wear earplugs you’re creating an area of air that you can’t equalize. Besides that, there’s also a risk of them being sucked into the ear canal. This could result in ear barotrauma.
Some people say that a shallow dive should be just fine. We’d say, don’t take any risks! Sure, the further down you dive the more problems will occur. Just stay on the safe side and stay at the ocean surface! In shallow water there’s a whole lot to discover if you simply float around.
So Which Earplugs Are Best For Snorkeling?
Now that’s a hard question. It depends on what you believe feels comfortable and whether or not you want to reuse them.
The most popular earplugs for swimming or snorkeling seem to be the moldable putty ear plugs. They can be used for a variety of situations. Just read through the reviews and you’ll get a better idea. They do prevent swimmer’s ear, so if that’s your main goal who knows they help you out. Besides all of this, they are pretty affordable since you pay around 13 bucks for 12 pairs. If you’re curious, here’s the link to Amazon.
These earplugs are not moldable but designed according to the human outer ear. Since they are soft and comfortable, they help out a lot of people. You can even wash and reuse them. They usually generate no or minimal leakage. Their comfort comes with a higher price though. You pay about 15 bucks for 5 pairs. Here’s the direct link to Amazon in case you’re curious.
For Your Information
Even though we won’t recommend any products in regards to alternatives, there are snorkel masks available that come with built-in ear protection. If you do a little research you’ll know what we mean. We never tried one, so who are we to give you advise. These days most people prefer the full face snorkel mask anyways.
It’s fine to wear earplugs when you go snorkeling or just swimming. Diving into the deep can cause harm to your ears. Ear barotrauma is an example of this.
Even though a shallow dive might be fine, it’s not worth the risk. If we read through discussions there seems to be a debate going on. We’d advise you to not dive down at all when you wear earplugs.
There are a bunch of earplugs available for snorkeling. If you don’t have any, maybe one of the options we provided will help you out. Just make sure you go through the comments in order to understand what they are all about.
If you wear a life vest you won’t dive down anyways. If this is you, you should be just fine.
One problem with earplugs is that you can’t hear everything clearly. Since we always tell people to stay safe, any hearing issues could be dangerous. Never snorkel alone and keep eye contact!
Another thing that’s not possible with earplugs is wearing a snorkel walkie talkie. They help people to stay in touch underwater. Yes, it’s a luxury gadget like we once explained, but it can help people out at the same time. Let’s say someone is scared to snorkel, staying in direct contact can make them feel at ease. Earplugs will harm this experience.
These days it’s usually fine to snorkel with any kind of aid you use. Did you know it’s perfectly fine to snorkel with dentures? Or to snorkel with a beard? Even snorkeling with glasses is possible even though that’s a little tricky.
If you made it this far we guess you’re pretty up to date about snorkeling with earplugs. Obviously everyone’s experience is different. Besides that, not every earplug is fully waterproof. Trying them in the bath tub first before going into the ocean could be a good idea to gain more confidence.