Benjamin Zyons, freediver, spearfisher and big wave surfer from Maui, suffered from exostosis. When he started wearing SurfEars it was a big relief, and they worked just as well for diving as for surfing. This is his experience with his own words.
(Originally posted on

Whether I’m freediving hundreds of feet, spearfishing for dinner, or surfing massive walls of water I’ve always been a firm believer that the best piece of equipment is yourself. With a healthy body and a strong mind you can accomplish anything! Making a living as Spearfishing Guide, Freediving Instructor, and Surfer I spend about as much time in the water (and below it) as I do on land. But as much as I like getting wet, I don’t love staying wet!

Benjamin Surfing Pe’ahi aka Jaws.

Benjamin Surfing Pe’ahi aka Jaws.

For several years I’ve battled an ear condition known as “exostosis”. This condition is caused when the ear canal is exposed to water and air over long periods of time and ultimately causes the ear canal to become narrowed thus trapping water in the inner ear. This condition, more commonly referred to as “Surfers Ear”, affects a large percentage of the ocean-going population. Like most people, I scoured the internet for solutions and tried everything from hydrogen peroxide mixed with vinegar and alcohol, to ear candles, and even spent a good deal of money on ear plugs that either left me unable to hear or eventually fell out and were lost. Also, none of these plugs allowed me to equalize while freediving or spearfishing. This condition kept me out of the water on countless occasions and was driving me crazy! If you’re anything like me you probably don’t like missing a dive day, surf session, smelling like vinegar, or making repeated trips to the doctor. Well now you don’t have to!

No more home remedies for Benjamin.

No more home remedies for Benjamin.

SurfEars is a revolutionary new ear plug designed by a team of professional product designers, engineers, dedicated surfers, and watermen with more than 20 years of experience. The result is an unparalleled design which allows you to hold a normal conversation while wearing your SurfEars plugs and they’re also comfortable enough that you can keep them in your ears for hours without even thinking about it. And best of all for divers, SurfEars actually make equalizing your ears even easier! Freedive Hawaii recommends SurfEars for surfers or for anyone interested in protecting their ears while freediving, spearfishing, scuba-diving, or participating in any in-water activity -above or below!

10lb Uku or Grey Snapper taken while spearfishing off a remote part of Lana’i during a Freedive Hawaii Bluewater Dive Trip while wearing SurfEars.

10lb Uku or Grey Snapper taken while spearfishing off a remote part of Lana’i during a Freedive Hawaii Bluewater Dive Trip while wearing SurfEars.

What is Exostosis (Surfer's Ear)

Surfer’s ear is extra bone formed as lumps that grow in the ear canal. The cause of it is exposure to cold water and wind, especially the combination of the two as the wind creates a chill factor when your ears are wet. The extra bone growth, also called exostosis is believed to be the body’s defense mechanism to protect the ear drum. The problem is that the exostosis doesn’t go away afterwards, instead it continues to grow. As surfers we are frequently exposed to windy and wet conditions and that’s why this condition is common among surfers. Hence the name; surfer’s ear. The pace of the bone growth will increase with lower temperature and more frequent exposure. However, how bad it gets varies from person to person as some seems to be more prone to develop exostosis than others.


When your ear canal gets narrower due to the exostosis, it’s harder for the water to get out once it’s in your ears. If you experience water stuck in your ears after a surf session, it might be that you are developing surfer’s ear.

Recurring ear infections is also an indication that you might have surfer’s ear. As your ears get worse at drying, the risk of catching an infection gets higher. You might not notice when the exostosis develops, and it’s not unheard that surfers who live in colder climates get ear infections once they travel to warmer places with more polluted water.


With improvements in modern wetsuits we are able to spend more time in colder conditions. The side effect of this is that more people develops surfer’s ear.

Recently during a surf event in Ireland, we made a study by examining the ears of 27 surfers of all ages who had surfed for at least five years – some were pro surfers, some happy enthusiasts. 70% of the participants had some degree of surfer’s ear in at least one ear. 19 of those had surfed for more than 10 years, for which the corresponding number was 84%. Nine of these had the highest grade of closure in at least one ear, meaning two thirds or more of the ear canal is closed.

In 2016, a similar study was made by Dr. Vini Simas and the Water Base Research Unit at Bond University with a small group of WSL Championship Tour surfers. Simas and his team found that all 14 surfers who took part in their study had developed surfer’s ear in at least one ear, and all except one in both ears.  Again, the highest grade of closure was observed for 50 % of the participants.


If the exostosis becomes severe, the only way to have it removed is by surgery, where the extra bones get drilled or chiseled out. It’s definitely not the most pleasant procedure to go through. For one, it will keep you out of the water for some time, and once it’s done it doesn’t prevent bone from growing back again. Surgery is the last option, but there are proven ways to be prevented. By wearing ear plugs  you can easily protect your ears from the elements.

Tom Carroll after his second ear surgery.

Tom Carroll after his second ear surgery.


Posted on Dec 20, 2017

While JUNIOR will fit most children between 4 to 12, everybody grows & develops at different rates.

Gauging the entry to your child’s ear canal is straight forward & will give you a good idea as to what plug will best fit your child.

With ear sizes varying from child to child, the suggested age range should be used as guide, but it isn’t an exact science. If you’re uncertain about which size to choose for your child, you can try to measure the opening of the ear canal which should be 6-10 mm (0.24-0.4 inches).

If the entrance to your child’s ear canal is larger than 10mm we suggest getting SurfEars or SwimEars & custom fit these to fit your child. There are Four different sized sets of sealing gels plus two different sized sets of support wing in each SurfEars pack.

Below we have Chris & his friend Kayden. Both Chris & Kayden are 11 years old. Chris is wearing JUNIOR which fit him well. Kayden’s ears are already too big for JUNIOR, but SwimEars fitted with the small sealing gels & support wings fits just right.

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JUNIOR Ear Plugs available next week!

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After a long wait, JUNIOR will be arriving next week! While it may have taken longer than expected, it’s nice to see that the R & D team have taken all the time & care in the world to create a kid’s earplug that’s second to none. Utilizing the experience & knowledge that they have gained designing SurfEars & SwimEars has enabled the creation of an incredibly user friendly, functional & robust product that also looks smart.
JUNIOR lets in more sound than any other kid’s earplug currently on the market, allowing kid’s to socialize with each other or listen to instructions when in the water.

While the ergonomic & comfortable fit ensures no water can enter the ear canal, preventing painful & uncomfortable ear health issues such as swimmers ear (otitis externa) and surfer’s ear (exostosis), abnormal bone growth in the ear canal associated with extended exposure to most water based activities.

The light weight leash safely secures the plugs to the user, significantly reducing the chances of plugs being lost in the water.

Unlike Both SurfEars & SwimEars, JUNIOR does not have adjustable buds or wings. Just one solid piece per ear has been found to work much better with kids. This means no lost, broken or easily swallowed parts.  

JUNIOR is suitable for most children ages 4-12­­


Harsh Reality of Surfers Ear

I have been surfing for 12 years and battling with ear infections for roughly the last 5 years. The ear infections would come and go on a regular basis and keep me out of the water for periods of time and wide awake at night.

I started surfing when I was 12 years old and acoustic earplugs were just a dream having tried most plugs that were available at the time. The only option was Blu-Tack which blocked out water and sound. Blu-Tack was not a good option as you would isolate yourself from any conversation in the water & it made it impossible to have any timing or balance when surfing, which took the fun out of it.

In 2013 I started going to the ENT department at the hospital to get my ears assessed and find out what my options were, stronger drugs or surgery...  Finally 3 years later and a lot of ear infections and time out of the water I had my exostosis (surfers ear) surgically removed in September 2016. After 2 month recovery I’m finally back in the water. Unfortunately I have to go through this whole process again to get my other ear cleared out.


2 weeks after surgery the, scars in my ears were still bleeding. 

2 weeks after surgery the, scars in my ears were still bleeding. 

The bones that were removed from my ear canal (exostosis)

The bones that were removed from my ear canal (exostosis)

This photo was taken a couple of hours after surgery

This photo was taken a couple of hours after surgery