The Best Scuba Diving Books

Last Updated: March 8, 2023

Scuba diving allows you to fully immerse yourself into another world, the mysterious and strange depths of the ocean. For the readers among us, there are countless books to choose from when it comes to diving and exploring the underwater world.

There are many types of scuba diving books, from bestsellers to training books to novels. There is also plenty of books about marine life with some stunning photography.

This post provides a list of the most popular, informative and essential books to accompany you on your diving journey.

1. General Books on Scuba Diving

scuba diving books

Fifty Places to Dive Before You Die

We all have a bucket list of things to do before we die and divers are no different. If you had only 50 diving spots you could visit, you’d be hard-pressed to find any better than the ones in this beautiful book.

Provided by diving experts from around the world, there is everything you need, including an ‘if you go’ section for when you eventually take the plunge.

Staying Alive

According to the author Steve Lewis, most scuba diving accidents are usually caused by divers who don’t stick within predetermined safety limits and are completely avoidable. Following an eight-step process, he walks the reader through the process of avoiding simple mistakes that could end up saving your life.

Diver Down

Diver down provides the reader with a selection of true diving accidents that were caused by diver error, mechanical failure, or environmental factors. Each story is accompanied by an in-depth analysis of what went wrong and how you, in the same situation, could have avoided suffering the same fate.

100 Dives of a Lifetime

It is a must for divers who want to experience the worldwide variety that diving has to offer, from the ancient Mexican cenotes to Australia’s verdant Great Barrier Reef and the awe-inspiring hammerheads of Costa Rica’s Cocos Island.

2. Scuba Diving Bestsellers

According to Publishers Weekly, the term ‘bestseller’ usually refers to books that have a top selling status, as published in newspapers, bookshops, magazines, and online. However, it is also widely used as a general term to mean something that is very popular.

The following books have all been on legitimate bestseller lists. These are also some of the more engrossing scuba-themed adventure books.

Shadow Divers

This riveting tale by Robert Kurson is of two amateur American divers who risked their lives to dive a U-boat wrecked off the coast of New Jersey.

The full title “Shadow Divers: The True Adventures of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II” essentially says what the book is about. Even if the story seems unbelievable, it all happened, two hundred and thirty feet down.

Something in the Water

This honeymoon thriller made it to the top of the New York Times bestseller list and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a tense and claustrophobic tale about a young couple’s shocking underwater discovery that has unimaginable consequences.

Pirate Hunters

A cracking thriller that follows the journey of two men, John Chatterton and John Mattera, who sacrificed it all to try to find the famed 17th-century pirate ship, Golden Fleece. The perfect read for thrill-seekers who love a dash of suspense, great characters, and a fast-paced adventure.

The Last Dive

This action-packed story by Bernie Chowdhury follows father and son Chris and Chrisy Rouse, who team up to solve an enduring mystery of a German U-boat from World War II.

3. Scuba Diving Training Books

The most basic scuba certification can take as little as four supervised dives in the open water, but diving is the type of activity where you are continually learning. No matter whether you’re a beginner, active learner, or seasoned diver, there is always something more to learn and understand about this fascinating activity.

Scuba Confidential

With an insightful list of tips and tricks, as well as a comprehensive guide to diving’s most controversial topics, Simon’ Pridmore’s guide is everything you need to know about mastering the skills of conventional scuba diving.

Deco for Divers

This book is a must for everyone who needs to know the principles that underline decompression theory. Written for beginners, it’s an easy and entertaining read about the mathematical modeling used to manage the risk of developing decompression sickness, also known as DCS.

Doing it Right

This book is perfect for all divers who want to develop the proper techniques from the get-go. It includes sections on:

  • Augmenting dive safety
  • Increasing your enjoyment of diving
  • Planning for deep cave exploration

Scuba Professional

Respected dive author Simon Pridmore discusses how scuba diving is taught and how professional diving operations take place.

The Physics of Scuba Diving

Diving is an awe-inspiring and fascinating activity, especially when you understand the science behind it. The author Marlow Anderson provides an informative and entertaining account of the mathematical calculations, physics, and biological knowledge that underpins scuba diving.

Cold Water Diving

All sports have their fringe elements and diving is no different. For some, diving into extreme cold waters is a challenge they willingly accept, despite the very real risk of hypothermia and death. With entries covering training, equipment, thermal protection, preparation, and safety, it’s a great addition to your diving library.


This is the definitive guide to scuba signs that are recognized around the world. Once you have mastered the scuba language, when you are underwater you will be able to:

  • Share information
  • Indicate a problem
  • Signal danger
  • Point out something of interest etc.

4. Scuba Diving Books for Beginners

Everyone needs to start somewhere. When you’re a beginner, it can be daunting, no matter what activity you’re undertaking and these books are a great place to start your scuba diving journey, with easy-to-follow and confidence-boosting techniques, hints, and lessons.

Scuba Fundamental

This is author Simon Pridmore’s third entry on this list, and it is not without merit: he is one of the world’s most respected dive authors.

Written for those who have yet to don their scuba equipment, this book is the perfect guide for beginners. It is not designed to teach you how to dive (that is left to the diving instructor), but rather to get you primed to learn by identifying common diving mistakes.


This comprehensive guidebook covers everything a new diver needs to be aware of, from choosing the right instructor to the practicalities of getting an Open Water Certificate.

Scuba Diving and Snorkeling for Dummies

In this friendly and accessible guide, the author John Newman takes you through everything you need to know when you start to scuba dive. This includes:

  • Freediving
  • Special breathing techniques
  • Emergency procedures
  • How to avoid the bends
  • Handling dive anxiety
  • The physics and chemistry of diving
  • Staying healthy on dive trips
  • Ocean ecosystems
  • Riptides and tidal waves

As a bonus, there are also glossy color photographs and a list of the world’s ten great dive destinations.

Your Dive Course Open Water Diver Manual

A must for all beginners, this manual contains anything and everything you need when you’re training to become a safe and competent scuba diver.

The Complete Diver

A must for all commercial scuba divers, this guide has everything you need to know about diver medicine, safety practices, and diving physics, to a history of each scientific discovery that saw scuba diving evolve over the years.

5. Scuba Diving Novels

Scuba diving can be a high-risk activity, but its reward is being able to experience the spectacular wonders of our undersea world. As such, scuba diving has proven to be fertile fodder for novel writers.

Recommended Read: Top 10 Scuba Diving Movies

Deep Shadow

Part of the ‘Deep shadow’ series, this novel is set amid the turquoise waters of some of the world’s best dive sites in the Caribbean and Northern Leewards. It follows the tasks and travails of wizened divemaster Boone Fisher.

Tropical Ice

Set amidst the fun and fervor of shark Week, this crime thriller spends as much time amidst the jungles of Belize as it does marvel at the natural beauty of one of nature’s most misunderstood animals: the shark.

Grave Descend

Written under the pen name John Lange, this early novel by blockbuster writer Michael Crichton tells the tale of diver James McGregor as he tries to uncover the secrets of the mysterious wreck the Grave Descend.

6. Books about Marine Life

The marine world is one of mystery, excitement, and the unknown. From sharks to stingrays and clownfish to cone shells, these books have everything you need to know about our animal neighbors that live under the waves.

The Soul of an Octopus

Naturalist Sy Montgomery documents his fascinating interactions with wild, solitary, and fiercely intelligent ocean octopuses. With a swathe of awards in its wake, it will leave you with a new appreciation of one of the ocean’s most mysterious animals.

Emperors of the Deep

Drawing on contemporary scientific knowledge, author William McKeever reveals the hidden world of sharks.

Reef Life

This guide, with over 1000 photographs, will help you identify all the spectacular animals and plants that you might encounter as you scuba dive. A must for any diver who has even just a passing interest in the marine world.

7. Underwater Photography Books

The saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ has never been more pertinent than when referring to the spectacle of our underwater world. You will find some of the world’s most stunning underwater photography in these books.

Underwater Photography Masterclass

This book by marine biologist Dr. Alexander Mustard, who has 30 years experience of taking underwater pictures, provides all you need before you take the plunge into underwater photography.

Apart from information about equipment and cameras, there is also advice on understanding and controlling light underwater, such as wide-angle light, ambient light, macro lighting and various techniques.


Superb photography is accompanied by to-to-date scientific facts about everything ocean. From the icy Antarctic waters to the turquoise paradise of the Caribbean, there is something for everyone in this stunning visual guide.

Dive Atlas of the World

Created by esteemed diver Jack Jackson, this is a visual reference of some of the most gorgeous dive sites around the world. From newly-discovered gems to traditional favorites, each site is examined with regard to difficulty, dangers, tips, and hints.

Final Thoughts

Typically, people go scuba diving to:

  • Study marine life including plants, animals, and the environment,
  • Explore shipwrecks or marine environments like reefs for recreation,
  • Perform military operations, or
  • Just enjoy the marine world.

And there is a book out there for every such purpose.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a seasoned scuba diver, a beginner looking to learn, or whether just taking underwater pictures is your thing, this article lists diving books in which you’re bound to find the one that is right for you.

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