Scuba Books

Deep speciality diving

Scuba books


If you google “best scuba books”, the top results list generic books about what scuba diving is, seemingly aimed at non-divers.  Well, you’re already a scuba diver, so I’m guessing you can skip those.


There are many good scuba books, covering numerous different topics that may pique your interest- including underwater photography, marine life, diving locations, diving physiology, dive training, marine life large and small, human factors in diving, marine archaeology, and famous diving stories and locations. I’ve also compiled a list of books about technical diving.


I’ve listed 60 of the best scuba books and grouped them by category. I’ll endeavour to keep the below list updated. If there are any books you love that aren’t listed, or you want to give me your opinion about any of the books you may have read, contact me.


Click on the links below to jump to a particular book category.



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Scuba Books about Dive Training

Scuba Diving: A short guide to open water training- Richard Devanney

Considering that I wrote this book, I have to give it 5 stars in every respect. More of a short reference than a book, it’s aimed at anyone interested in learning to dive.

It provides information on choosing a course based on a desire to dive locally or on holiday. I would be grateful for a review if you buy it.


Scuba Confidential: An Insider's Guide to Becoming a Better Diver- Simon Pridmore

For qualified divers, this book provides great insight into how you can improve your diving, and over time how you can branch out to get involved in different types of diving such as technical diving.


Scuba Fundamental: Start Diving the Right Way- Simon Pridmore

If you’re thinking of learning to scuba dive, this book lays out everything you need to know.

scuba diving book

Scuba Professional: Insights into Sport Diver Training & Operations- Simon Pridmore

For those thinking of becoming a dive professional, read this book. It provides realistic account of what the diving industry is like and dispels a few myths.

Current dive professionals should also read it.

scuba diving book

SCUBA: A Practical Guide for the New Diver Paperback- James A Lapenta

This scuba book leans heavily on what’s wrong with general scuba training, and tips on how you can do it better. It’s hard to know who this book is aimed at because it’s doubtful that a non-scuba diver would read it.

Scuba divers have already undertaken their open water and maybe their advanced or rescue course, so it’s arguably a little late for them. So it seems to be aimed at scuba instructors, as a call to action to do better, which is no bad thing.


SCUBA: A Practical Guide to Advanced Level Training: aka Advanced Open Water Training- James Lapenta

Again, very critical of the overall dive industry and it’s approach to training beyond open water. Gives tips and advice on how to seek better training.


Technical Diving: An Introduction- Mark Powell

Very up to date account of what technical diving is, with a little bit of myth-busting thrown in.

This is a great read for anyone potentially interested in starting technical diving.


Scuba Books about Physiology

Scuba Physiological: Think You Know All About Scuba Medicine? Think again!- Simon Pridmore

This book represents the most up-to-date information there is about diving physiology research. The subject area is laden with technical jargon, but Simon Pridmore does a great job of simplifying the language for the layperson.

The book intends to make you reconsider decompression stress and help you take steps to reduce it in your diving. It’s one of the most up-to-date scuba books and a very interesting read.


Deco for Divers: A Diver's Guide to Decompression Theory and Physiology (2nd Edition)- Mark Powell

Although this book goes far beyond what you learn about decompression theory and diving physiology in a scuba course, it can only be useful to be armed with such information.

It’s an essential reference for technical diving instructors when teaching decompression courses. Highly recommended.


Your Brain on Diving: New insights into the function of the human brain underwater- Klaus M. Stiefel

The author summarises the latest research about what happens to the brain when diving. It also covers narcosis and apnea diving. Not one of the typical scuba diving books, but very informative about an area of diving physiology that’s rarely discussed.


Scuba Books about Human Factors

Under Pressure: Diving Deeper with Human Factors- Gareth Lock MSc.

Great book about understanding and incorporating human factors into the practice of diving. Numerous case studies of diving incidents are analysed, in order to learn lessons on how you can learn from them to improve your own diving.

A must-read for all divers and especially dive educators.


Explore your scubapsyche- Dr Laura Walton.

Collection of essays on the psychology of diving. You can download the ebook on Laura’s Fit to Dive website. It outlines how psychology can help if you’re having difficulties with an aspect of your diving, or if something went wrong on a dive and you’re having trouble processing it.


Scuba Books about Marine Life

Marine Fish & Invertebrates of Northern Europe- Frank Emil Moen and Erling Svensen

Written for the layperson, but very comprehensive. One of the most detailed scuba books available on marine life.

It’s ordered in a very intuitive way to help you identify the things you see when diving.


Reef Life: A Guide to Tropical Marine Life- Brandon Cole

Accessible book describing the most common marine life that you’re likely to encounter as a diver. Covers everything from the open ocean, to coral reefs, to rock pools. Great accompaniment for a diver.


The World Beneath: The Life and Times of Unknown Sea Creatures and Coral Reefs- Dr. Richard Smith

Over 300 photographs and detailed descriptions of all the creatures that live in and around coral reefs all over the world. Written by an expert on seahorses. Also has perhaps the best looking cover of all the scuba books.


Nudibranchs of the World- Helmut Debelius and Rudie H. Kuiter

A very comprehensive guide to over 1180 species of Nudibranch around the world, including detailed descriptions and photos.


Guide to Inshore Marine Life- David Erwin and Bernard Picton

Guide to the marine life found in the North Eastern Atlantic Ocean. Includes information on fish, echinodermata, cnidaria, mollusca, porifera, worms, tunicates and algae.


Nudibranchs of Britain, Ireland and Northwest Europe: Second Edition- Bernard Picton and Christine Morrow

The most comprehensive book on Nudibranchs out there. Over 195 species are included, with detailed drawings and beautiful photos.


The Diver's Guide to Marine Life of Britain and Ireland: Second Edition- Chris Wood

Comprehensive book covering over 300 species that reside in the waters of the UK and Ireland.


Coral Reef Curiosities: Intrigue, Deception and Wonder on the Reef and Beyond- Chuck Weikert

If you’ve ever wondered how the lives of marine animals pan out at your favourite coral reefs, look no further than this book. Numerous examples of symbiotic relationships are noted, such as why and how groupers join forces with morey eels to hunt.

As scuba books go, this is a fascinating read.


Beneath the Blue Planet: A Diver’s Guide to the Ocean and Its Conservation- Peter McDougall, Ian Popple, and Otto Wagner

From the Reefsmart series of scuba diving books. This book focuses on marine life and marine conservation.


The Reef Set: Reef Fish, Reef Creature and Reef Coral (3 Volumes)- Paul Humann & Ned Deloach

Comes as a set of 3 books about marine life in Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. The first is about fish identification, the second about reef creatures, and the third about coral identification. I’m guessing that reef creatures is everything that isn’t fish or coral! Seems like a very useful set of scuba books if you intend to visit those areas.


Scuba Books about Famous Stories and Locations

Raising the Dead: A True Story of Death and Survival- Phillip Finch

The event covered by Raising the Dead is a compelling but sad story about the risks of deep diving. David Shaw and his team had noble intentions to recover the body of a diver that had been missing for 11 years, but it tragically resulted in David’s death.

His buddy Don Shirley was also injured with severe decompression sickness. It’s one of the best written scuba books in my opinion.


Aquanaut: The Inside Story of the Thai Cave Rescue- Rick Stanton

Written by Rick Stanton, this is the story of the Thai cave rescue. There’s no better account of events than from the person that found and rescued the boys and their coach.

Aquanaut-The Inside-Story-of-the-Thai-Cave-Rescue

Thirteen Lessons that Saved Thirteen Lives: The Thai Cave Rescue- John Volanthen

John’s book of the Thai cave rescue was used as the framework for Ron Howard’s film Thirteen Lives. John was the first diver to find the boys, and, along with Rick Stanton, performed their rescue.


Against All Odds- Craig Challen and Richard Harris

Dr Richard Harris was the doctor that sedated the boys of the Thai cave rescue, before they were brought out of the cave. Craig Challen was his buddy and is an accomplished cave diver in his own right. Both men were awarded Australian of the year in 2019 as a result of their efforts.


Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Cave on Earth- James M. Tabor

American Bill Stone, and Ukrainian Alexander Klimchouk spent months underground almost two miles deep whilst trying to join two cave systems together. They had to deal with large drops, strong waterfalls, tight spaces, and total darkness, all whilst being far from any hope of rescue. Not for the claustrophobic.


Shadow Divers- Robert Kurson

One of the classic scuba books. John Chatterton and Richie Kohler spent 5 years attempting to identify a U-boat discovered off the coast of New Jersey. It’s a riveting account of their efforts and you’ll either want to dive shipwrecks or never want to go diving again after reading it.


The Last Dive: A Father and Son's Fatal Descent Into the Ocean's Depths- Bernie Chowdhury

The same wreck that became an obsession for the shadow divers also sadly claimed the lives of father and son Chris and Chrissie Rouse. It’s a very sad story about the circumstances leading up to their fatal dive, and a cautionary tale about deep diving on air.


Fatal Depth: Deep Sea Diving, China Fever, And The Wreck Of The Andrea Doria- Joe Haberstroh

In the same morbid vein as the last dive, this book recounts the story of three divers that died whilst exploring the Andrea Doria in 1998 and 1999. They were on seperate dives, and one of the factors that may have contributed to their deaths was the need to find and take mementoes such as china plates from the wreck.

When you consider that the wreck sits at 70m (230ft), such treasure hunting is a very risky endeavour.  This is one of the more gripping scuba books.


Books about Underwater Photography

Underwater Photography Masterclass- Dr. Alex Mustard

With over 30 years experience in underwater photography, Alex shares his knowledge on photography techniques. He gives his insight on camera equipment, lighting, lenses, and information on the marine life that he photographs.


The Underwater Photographer 5th Edition- Martin Edge and Stuart Gibson

Detailed book that covers all aspects of underwater photography. Including photographing shipwrecks, other divers, marine life, macro and night photography.

The 5th edition covers the latest equipment, such as SLR Cameras, water contact lenses, and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Micro four third systems, super macro techniques, motion blur, and LED lighting are also discussed.


Underwater Photography- Tobias Friedrich

Covers all aspects of underwater photography. The author uses case studies of his own work to outline how to frame a shot, and what settings to use.


Underwater Pictures With Olympus TG-6: Manual аnd Practical Guide for Best Underwater Settings- Alexey Zaytsev

Step-by-step instructions on how to get the best out of the TG-6 camera.


Books about US Dive Locations

Encyclopedia of Florida Shipwrecks, Volume I: Atlantic Coast- Michael C Barnette

Highly detailed inventory of 1,300 wrecks and artificial reef sites in Florida’s Atlantic coast. Includes 1,000 GPS coordinates.


The Great Lakes Diving Guide- Cris Kohl

Locations and descriptions of over 800 wrecks. Includes a history of each wreck and the details of their sinking.


Long Island Shore Diver: The Diver's Guide to Long Island, N.Y. Beach Diving Sites- Daniel Berg, Denise Berg.

Complete maps and conditions for over 60 dive sites accessible from the shores of Long Island.


Reef Smart Guides Northwest Florida: (Best Diving Spots in NW Florida)- Peter McDougall, Ian Popple, and Otto Wagner

Includes 137 dive sites, both from the shore and by boat. Each site has a dive map, and information on the local marine life. Reefsmart have probably the most scuba books available.


Reef Smart Guides Florida: Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and Deerfield Beach- Peter McDougall, Ian Popple, and Otto Wagner

Same style and format as the Northwest Florida guide. This series of scuba books seem to be very detailed and well thought through.


Reef Smart Guides Florida Keys: Scuba Dive Snorkel Surf- Peter McDougall, Ian Popple, and Otto Wagner

Continuing the Reefsmart series of scuba books. This one about diving the Florida Keys.


Reef Smart Guides Florida: Palm Beach: Scuba Dive. Snorkel. Surf- Peter McDougall, Ian Popple, and Otto Wagner

Another edition of the Reefsmart guides, this time for Palm Beach, Florida.


Books about UK Dive Locations

Dorset Dives: A Guide to Scuba Diving Along the Jurassic Coast- Will Appleyard

Thorough guide to diving on the Jurassic coast of England.


Top 100 British Shore Dives- Anita Sherwood

Exhaustitive descriptions of every dive, including entry and exit points, photos, dive site maps, nearby filling stations and local coastguard information.


Dive Scapa Flow - Rod Macdonald

Practical guide to diving the famous Orkney wrecks of Scapa Flow. As you would expect from scuba books by Rod MacDonald, it’s very comprehensive.


Diver Guide: Dive South Cornwall- Richard Larn

An old but very comprehensive guide to diving in South Cornwall.


Dive Weekends in South West England- Anita Sherwood

The Southwest of the UK has a lot of good diving and this book covers many of the best sites. Over 140 are included, along with information about entry and exit points, local filling options and marine life for each site.


UK Dive Guide: Diving Guide to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales- Patrick Shier

Describes 100 dives that can be done from the shore or by boat within the British Isles. Includes maps of the dive sites, photos, and information on the marine life.


Books about Worldwide Dive Locations

Reef Smart Guides Barbados: Scuba Dive. Snorkel. Surf. (Best Diving Spots in the Caribbean's Barbados)- Peter McDougall, Ian Popple, Otto Wagner.

Yet another guide in the Reefsmart series. A comprehensive outline of the best diving in Barbados. One of the most detailed scuba books covering Barbados.


Diving & Snorkeling Guide to Raja Ampat & Northeast Indonesia- Tim Rock

Written in 2019, this guide gives you all the information you need to plan a trip to Raja Ampat and Northeast Indonesia.


Reef Smart Guides Bonaire: Scuba Dive. Snorkel. Surf. (Best Netherlands' Bonaire Diving Spots, Scuba Diving Travel Guide)- Peter McDougall, Ian Popple, Otto Wagner.

Guide to the best dive sites in Bonaire, part of the Reefsmart series. Lots of dive site maps and local information.


The 50 Best Dives in the Philippines: The Ultimate Guide to the Essential Sites- Tim Rock

It’s quite a challenge to take on the 7,000 Islands of the Philippines. This book lists the most popular places to dive, along with some of the more remote places. It gives you all the information you need to plan a dive trip to the Philippines.

One of the more comprehensive scuba books about the Philippines.


Reef Smart Guides Curaçao: (Best Diving and Snorkeling Spots in Curaçao)- Peter McDougall, Ian Popple, Otto Wagner.

Handbook to the best dive sites in Curaçao, part of the Reefsmart series of scuba books. Lots of dive site maps, local information and info on local dive operators.


Reef Smart Guides Grand Cayman: (Best Diving Spots)- Peter McDougall, Ian Popple, Otto Wagner.

Outlines the best dive sites in Grand Cayman, part of the Reefsmart series of scuba books. Lots of dive site maps, local information and info on local dive operators.


The 50 Best Dives in Indonesia: The Ultimate Guide to the Essential Sites- Tim Rock, Simon Pridmore

It’s quite a daunting task to try and find the best diving in such a huge country renowned for having great diving, but the authors have given it a go. They pick out the 50 best diving locations, based on having visited and dived them themselves.


Dive Atlas of the World: An Illustrated Reference to the Best Sites- Jack Jackson

Beautifully illustrated, this book will give you a lifetime of diving holiday destination ideas. Well written and pretty detailed on the top dive sites in the world.


Diving in Indonesia: The Ultimate Guide to the World's Best Dive Spots: Bali, Komodo, Sulawesi, Papua, and more- Sarah Ann Wormald

Information on lots of dive sites that are popular across Indonesia. Includes area maps, dive site maps, level of difficulty, info on local dive operators, and what marine life you are likely to find.


Fifty Places to Dive Before You Die: Diving Experts Share the World's Greatest Destinations- Chris Santella

Top diving destinations such as Raja Ampat are included in this book. There won’t be as much detail as with scuba books that focus on a particular place, but sometimes a good overview is a good place to start.


The 50 Best Dives in Hawaii: The Ultimate Guide to the Essential Sites- Tim Rock, David Fleetham

Information on the top 50 dive sites in Hawaii, as dived by the authors. Lots of info on marine life and dive site conditions.


Books about Marine Archaeology

Our Blue Planet: An Introduction to Maritime and Underwater Archaeology- Ben Ford

This book provides a great introduction to the field of maritime and underwater archaeology. So for anyone interested in learning more, this is a great place to start.


Diving biographies and memoirs

The Silent World- Jacques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau was essentially the inventor of scuba diving as we know it. Before he became known for his adventures on board the Calypso, he was in the French Navy and was an accomplished engineer. He developed the first scuba regulator with Emile Gagnan, which made scuba diving accessible to the average, albeit adventurous person.

This book was first published in 1954. This version has been released by National Geographic to mark the 50th anniversary since it was first published. It outlines Cousteau’s time in World War II and post-war, leading up to the early 50s.

Unsurprisingly, Cousteau was also a pioneer in writing scuba books. He published quite a few during his life.


Trailblazer: The Extraordinary Life of Diving Pioneer Dottie Frazier- Dottie Frazier

Dottie Frazier had a remarkable life that was closely entwined with the ocean. Amongst other things, she was a skin diving instructor in the 1930s. During the Second World War, she was a commercial fisherwoman, and in 1955 she became the world’s first certified female scuba instructor.

It doesn’t end there, she was also a commercial diver and the world’s first female scuba shop owner and wetsuit manufacturer. In 2019 at the age of 97, she received the Historical Diving Society Diving Pioneer Award. It’s a fascinating scuba book and a window into the early days of scuba.


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