When people go swimming they wear goggles so they can more easily see underwater but if you look at a lineup of surfer's you'll see that none of them wear googles. It's basically unheard of to wear googles while surfing.
But why don't surfers wear goggles when surfing?
Is there are good reasons for it?
Surfer's don't wear goggles when surfing because they aren't needed. When standing up on the wave you don't get much water in your eyes, when paddling you've got your head raised. You look silly wearing goggles when surfing as no one wears them and there is no need to see underwater.
I've been surfing for nearly 20 years and I can't think of a time that I saw a standup surfer wearing goggles.
In this article we'll look into each of the reasons surfers don't wear goggles and that should help you decide whether or not you want to wear goggles.
1. Most Of The Time You're Up and Out of The Water
When surfing most of the time you're up and out of the water and you're not getting a lot of water in your face.
You're standing up on the wave and most of the water splashing is at your feet.
When you're paddling your back is arched and your head is raised looking where you're going and so it's up and out of the water.
2. There Is No Real Need To See Underwater
When surfing you spend most of your time above the water however you do go underwater when a wave is coming and you need to duck dive under it.
However, when duck diving on the way you don't really need to see anything.
There is a specific emotion to duck diving, the wave passes over you quite quickly and you can do a lot of it by feel.
Windsurfing you're more focused on the waves that are coming out the back rather than trying to see anything that's under the water.
You just rarely if ever I need to see underwater when you're surfing so goggles aren't required.
3. Even On Waves Water Rarely Restricts Your Vision
When you're taking off on a wave you quickly stand up. This raises you up out of the water and away from the splashing that could restrict your vision.
When you're deep inside a barrel you can get water in your eyes but it's not so bad and so frequent that you feel like you need to use goggles.
It's kind of like sneezing when driving. A splash of water might blind you for a second but you're usually fine and can stay on the wave until you wipe the water out of your eye and see where you're going.
4. Fogged Up or Wet Goggles Make It Hard To See
The last thing you want when taking off on a wave is to have goggles that are fogged up or that have partially filled up with water making it impossible for you to see.
I would much rather have my eyes get a little bit wet, wipe away the water and be good to go then to be stuck with goggles that are foggy that I need to try and takeoff while I'm also trying to surf a wave.
5. Goggles Can Restrict Your Peripheral Vision
Surfing is a very immersive experience and part of the joy of surfing is just being out there and enjoying the scenery.
Goggles restrict your vision and restrict your peripheral vision and can make the experience of surfing less enjoyable.
This isn't a major deal as you can still see pretty well with goggles but you can definitely see the waves better without them.
6. Probably Most Importantly: The Look Stupid And You'll Likely Be Insulted
Probably the most important reason that surfers don't wear goggles is that it looks silly wearing goggles while you're surfing.
Surfing can be a social sport and it can also be a cruel cruel world where people are judged based on both their surfing skills as well as what they are wearing.
Wearing goggles surfing might make you look like a kook, which is surfing slang for a beginner, and you're not going to get as much respect in the water as you would otherwise.
So it's highly likely some people don't wear goggles just because they don't want to be the only surfer wearing goggles in the water.
Bodysurfers Are More Likely To Wear Goggles
Well it's extremely rare for a surfer to wear goggles it's more common for someone body surfing to wear goggles.
When your body surfing your face is right in the wave and getting water in your eyes is a much much bigger issue than stand up surfing.
Body suffers will often where fins on their feet for paddling into a wave faster, they might wear a hand plane and they also may opt to wear goggles.
Went out the back waiting for a wave, a body surfer looks a lot more like a swimmer so wearing goggles isn't as much of a fashion issue.
Surfing With Sunglasses is More Common
Surfers spend a lot of time exposed to direct sunlight and the UV rays associated with it. There is no shade out in the surf and the sun often reflects off the water exposing you to even more harmful rays.
While not very common surfing with sunglasses is much more common than surfing with goggles.
Most surfer's know about the harmful effect of the suns rays and are more likely to respect someone wearing sunglasses to protect their eyes from extensive UV protection.
Surfers wear sunglasses on land so it doesn't feel as out of place.
You can buy specific sunglasses designed for surfing or you can buy straps for sunglasses that keep them on your head even when you're submerged and attach the sunglasses to your wetsuit if they are knocked off during a wipeout or duck dive.
Potential Benefits To Surfing With Goggles
The benefits to surfing with goggles are minimal but I do imagine they would be useful when you're riding big waves and you're inside the barrel or right near the crashing part of the wave where you could get water in your face.
Another situation we are goggles might be useful is in extremely windy conditions where the wind blows a lot of water in your face.
But otherwise there aren't that many benefits to wearing goggles while surfing and I personally don't think I would ever do it.