5 Best Surf Earplugs for 2021

by Oliver Sander

Our selection of the 5 best surf earplugs for 2021 can help stave over the dreaded surfer’s ear and get you out in the water for longer.


We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

So, you’re on the hunt for the best surf earplugs? You’ve come to the right place. This guide will delve into a range of the top water-blocking earplugs specifically designed for high-intensity water sports like ours. It’s got options to suit a whole range of ear types and budgets, but also one runaway industry leader that we’d say all serious surfers should consider if the moolah allows.

Surf earplugs are a super important part of the kit these days. They’re there to prevent surfer’s ear, a phenomenon that sees the gradual expansion of the inner ear muscles and bones after excessive and regular exposure to cold air and H2O. It’s not a good thing. Victims can lose up to 90% of hearing. And the treatment is a drill taken down the ear canal. Ouch!

So, if you don’t fancy ending up like one of those surf veterans who wouldn’t even be able to hear the waves crashing into Waimea Bay during an XXL comp, consider the products below. Research shows you can stave off the effects of surfer’s ear and keep those listening devices healthy if you bag the right kit and use it regularly…

A quick-jump guide to our list of the best surf earplugs

Creatures of Leisure SurfEars Water Out Sound in Ear Plugs **the best surf earplugs on the market**

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED: $59.95

We’d say these groundbreaking stoppers from Creatures of Leisure have been the best surf earplugs out there for some years now. Okay, so they aren’t cheap. But glance around the lineup and the chances are that the best folks out there will be blocking their lobes with these bad boys. The truth is they remain a cut above the crowd in terms of quality and style, while also bringing a few handy extras into the mix for surfers who like to be in the water for hours on end or paddle out with mates.

The number one thing for us has to be the unique design. It’s aimed at stopping water from getting in while keeping the sound flowing. SurfEar 3.0 achieves that with a pretty nifty mesh-type material, which has been measured to keep normal decibel levels (other comparable earplugs are thought to reduce sound intake by as much as 30 dB!).

The design is a three-parter. There’s a fixing wing to loop it over the top of the ear, the main insert (very malleable and squishy) and then the exterior sealing gels. The latter have been tested against tailor-made plug fits (which would probably cost you 3x as much!) and have come out good. You also get a threaded connecter so you can rest assured the plugs will still be there when you wipeout on Mavericks.

Creatures of Leisure have improved things even more with this latest iteration of SurfEars. They’ve added eco-friendly packaging and thrown in six additional gel plugs so you can replace when the salt gets to the silicone covers. The only downside? Price.

  • Intelligent material means you can hear while surfing
  • Adjustable cord to keep them fixed
  • Excellent water blocking
  • The price

Mack’s AquaBlock Swimming Earplugs

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED: $9.99

If you don’t have $60 spare to drop on SurfEars, then there are a few alternative options out there that can block the water and wind for much less. One of the leaders of the bunch is Mack’s AquaBlock. It’s actually an all-round swimming plug but we’ve had good results using it in pretty rough surf conditions, both in Europe and in New Zealand.

The design is very simple. It’s a squishy rubber plug that you twist straight into the main ear canal. Mack’s do add a few of their own USPs. There’s a pre-molded and flanged stem to em’, to help add multiple water blocks and ensure not a drop of H2O makes it through. They’ve also gone for a triple flange, for even more water protection, and a Flex Stem, which makes the whole thing more bendy.

We’ve actually found the Mack’s AquaBlock Swimming Earplugs to be one of the best surf earplugs for durability. The silicone can go for months on end and it’s clean-safe, so wash it and it looks as good as new. What we don’t like so much is that the plugs are separate. There’s no central cord linking the two together, which means you can’t tuck it into the neckline of your wetsuit to keep them more secure.

Still, it’s a cracking budget choice…

  • Official partner of Swimming USA
  • Affordable
  • Very durable
  • No neck connector
  • Don’t mould to all ear shapes

Naohiro Swimming Earplugs

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED: $12.99

Naohiro Swimming Earplugs are about as simple and as standard as the best surf earplugs get. The key thing about the design here is that the flanged stem has been dropped in favor of a simple twist-in plug that sits in the canal (the inner part of the ear). It’s a shape that suits some ears and doesn’t suit others. We’re the latter, but you’ve just gotta’ try them to see if they’re your sort of thing.

The bonus is that the Naohiro Swimming Earplugs are super affordable. $12.99 here gets you a whopping six separate pairs. And they come with a neat box for storage on those long surf trips. Earplugs of this design also tend to be slightly less oppressive to wear out in the water. They don’t have big loops around your cartilage or long connecting cords. It’s just a small piece of rubber plugged smack dab in the middle.

As we’ve said above, our ears aren’t really all that suited to plugs that sit in the inner ear alone. It might be for that reason that we found the Naohiro buds dropped out easily. That’s not great news if you’re paddling into seven footers down on Trestles beach, you know.

  • Good water blocking
  • Simple to use
  • Very affordable
  • Not suited to certain ear shapes
  • Not the most fixed in the ear for some ear types

Hearprotek Upgraded Custom-fit Water Protection Adult Swimming earplug

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED: $17.99

Sometimes, deciding on the best earplugs for surfing is more about deciding on the shape of a plug than going for nifty tech. We know loads of guys who’ve struggled through in-ear plugs and modulable plugs, only to find that the only thing that really works is something heftier. Cue the Hearprotek. These have big arms that extend more than an inch, all the way to the roof of the ear for added support.

In the ear, they go .87 inches to give the depth needed for complete water eradication. More than that, the pack comes with three individual stem types with different radius flanges. That means you can chop and change the shape of the plug to suit your individual ears. It’s also great that you get two pairs in every pack.

The main downside is that the Hearprotek plugs can feel a little bulky in the ear. They’re also not as cheap as comparable sound-blocking buds, so we often thing you may as well go the extra mile and score those industry-leading SurfEars.

  • Good in-ear support
  • Multiple stem shapes for a custom fit
  • Two in each pack
  • Too bulky in the ear for some
  • Not too cheap

Oken Swimming Earplugs

PRICE WHEN REVIEWED: $9.99

The Oken Swimming Earplugs take a bit of a different tack to other products on this list of the best surf earplugs. They’re designed as a sort of ball and joint. Centering on the main ear canal, you rely on the shape of the contoured insert to bock out the wind and water. That’s different to most plugs, which go for a long stem with rubber flanges. Again, whether that suits you will largely be down to personal preference, but we will say we’ve used these in the past to good effect, and on longer, windier surf sessions, too.

Another plus to the Onken plugs is how simple and stylish they look. You don’t get any of the fancy UFO-like colors in these and there are no flashing gizmo pieces. It’s just a simple black and yellow frontage with a clearly defined L and R tag to let you know which ear to place them in. Onken do claim that sound can enter in and out, but we do notice a significant reduction in volume (AKA more than on the SurfEars), though perhaps not as bad as some other in-ear plugs.

  • Different design with ball and socket + a few smaller flanges
  • Stylish, simple look
  • Lets some sound in
  • Not enough support for some ear types
  • Significant sound reduction

We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

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