Can You Snorkel with Earplugs – Is it Safe?

Last Updated: February 24, 2023

Earplugs are an important part of ear health management. Unfortunately, these tiny devices are mostly meant to be used in normal conditions. As such, if you wear earplugs, you might find yourself wondering whether they are safe to wear for your snorkeling trip or not.

So, is it ok to snorkel with earplugs? The short answer is yes. You can snorkel all you want, provided you get the right plugs for the job.

When snorkeling on the water surface, you can use the standard types of earplugs. However, for underwater snorkeling, you’ll want to wear vented earplugs to equalize pressure.

How Do You Keep Water Out of Your Ears When Snorkeling?

can you wear earplugs when snorkeling

Naturally, water will get into your ears when you are swimming or snorkeling. Fortunately, there are several hacks you could use to prevent the problem.

The methods below can help you block water from entering your ears.

Water Sports Earplugs

Use specially designed water sports earplugs since they are waterproof, and seal the ear canal completely. The regular over-the-counter brands are not waterproof and may let water into the ears. Choose earplugs that are comfortable and which create a tight seal in your ears to block water out. Get a brand that has assorted sizes to get your perfect size.

Swim Molds

These are tailor-made earplugs made from waterproof material such as silicone. The perfect-fit earplugs create a tight seal in your ear canal to block away water. You can have a specialist or hearing doctor (ENT) custom-make the swim molds for your ears.

Swim Caps

Some swim caps are made to cover the head all the way to the ears. Such caps have ear spaces that have a waterproof seal which covers the entire ear. You can purchase the caps from a swimming supply or athletic store.

Swimmers’ Headband

The swimmer’s headband wraps around the head to keep your earplugs in place. The headbands are particularly good for children who like to swim. They prevent the earplugs from coming off.

Is it Safe to Snorkel with Earplugs?

Yes, it is safe to snorkel with earplugs for most people. However, there is a contention about whether the regular foam earplugs are efficient in preventing water from entering the ears.

Some earplugs, such as the vented type, are quite safe since they equalize the air pressure in the ear canal.

Reasons to Wear Earplugs When Snorkeling

If you’re like most water-sport lovers, your plan as you head out for a snorkeling expedition is to enjoy a break from your everyday life. It would be a shame that instead of enjoyment you end up with ear health issues.

In a nutshell, it is advisable to wear earplugs when snorkeling for the following reasons:

  • Avoid water accumulation: It is normal for water to enter your ears when you are snorkeling. Once you exit, you have to find a way to remove or dry out the water. Earplugs can help you avoid that problem in the first place by blocking water from finding its way into your ears.
  • Noise cancellation: Large water bodies have constant sounds due to the vibrant marine life. If it rains, the noise is bound to be worse. To be safe, wear earplugs to prevent any ear injuries and in extreme cases, prevent hearing loss.
  • Keep out foreign objects: Whenever water enters your ears, it carries along foreign objects such as dirt. The accumulation may cause an infection, make your ears feel unusually heavy, or reduce your hearing ability. High-quality plugs can solve that problem.
  • Rough weather conditions: Weather conditions are unpredictable. A calm and serene environment can change at the drop of a hat. The noise from the heavy winds and sometimes sandstorms can damage your hearing and this is where the noise-calming effects of earplugs can come in handy.

Which Earplugs are Best for Snorkeling?

woman with earplug

So long as the earplugs are waterproof, safe, comfortable, and capable of sealing water off the ear canal, they are good enough. The rest of the specifics will depend on your unique preferences.

The earplugs recommended for snorkeling include:

1. Moldable Earplugs

The moldable earplugs are the most popular for snorkeling or swimming. The earplugs mold into the shape of your ear, thereby forming an airtight waterproof seal around the ears. Moldable earplugs are comfortable and efficiently prevent the swimmer’s ears.

Have a look at quality moldable earplugs on Amazon.

2. Silicone Ready-made Earplugs

Silicone ready-made earplugs are shaped like the outer ear of a person. Most people like them since they are soft, comfortable, and generate minimal leakage if any. You can also wash and reuse the earplugs.

Have a look at popular silicone ready-made earplugs on Amazon.

3. Vented Earplugs

If you have plans to dive during your snorkeling adventure, go for the vented earplugs. They are made with small holes that balance the air pressure in the ear canal. Vented earplugs will not pop out when you dive; unlike the standard type which may come out or wedge further inside your ears.

Have a look at reliable vented earplugs on Amazon.

Why You Shouldn’t Dive with Earplugs

It is quite safe to snorkel at the ocean surface, or in shallow waters with earplugs. However, it is not safe to dive down with them.

If you happen to dive down with earplugs, you may encounter the following risks:

  • Ear barotrauma – If you dive down with ear plugs, the air pressure in the ear canal will change. Human ears are sensitive to pressure changes. When the change is rapid and significant like in diving, it may cause ear barotrauma. It is an ear pain that causes significant discomfort.
  • Compressive forces – When you dive down into the ocean even for just a few feet, pressure increases. You will sense the pressure on your body and in the eardrums. The negative pressure in your ears may bend the eardrums inwards, which is uncomfortable.
  • Air equalization in the inner ears – Earplugs are unsafe for diving since they create an airspace in the ear canal that cannot be equalized. To balance the negative air pressure on the eardrum, the eustachian tube adds more air to the inner air. When you leave the underwater, the air in the inner ear will expand and cause discomfort.

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