Top 11 Books On Diving

Scuba diving is one of the top recreational activities undertaken by both tourists and locals around the world. The term scuba is the acronym for “Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus”, which allows divers to stay submerged for extended durations.

Scuba diving is primarily used for military or recreational purposes and uses complex equipment to keep the diver safe and maintain air circulation.

While diving can be an amazing experience, it is important to exercise caution. Divers often solely rely on underwater hand signals to communicate distress.

This is because sound waves behave differently underwater, making standard radio communication difficult. Divers have a comprehensive series of hand signals that can be used to convey a variety of meanings for different situations.

When setting out on your first dive, it is always better to anticipate what you will encounter. The best way to learn is the theory well and then pick up tips from the experience of expert divers. However, this can be difficult since there are a large number of average books available in the market that are more likely to confuse you.

But that’s why we’re here! In this article, we present the top books we have curated on the subject of scuba diving. With an in-depth look into both the basics and more advanced concepts, you will be more confident when you head for your next dive.

And so, without further ado, here are our top 11 books on diving!

Top 11 books on diving

1. The Complete Diver: History, Science, and Practice of Scuba Diving

By Alex Brylske Ph.D.

Considered to be the Bible when it comes to commercial scuba diving, this extensive and detailed guide by diving expert Alex Brylske is a must-have. Combining his practical experience with theoretical knowledge, this book covers several concepts that are essential for a first-time diver. For those looking to learn about the sport or earn a certification from an accredited body, this is a go-to guide when it comes to learning about how scuba diving has evolved over the years.

It also delves into marine science and the various inventions that have transformed scuba diving over the years. Complete with the history of each scientific discovery, it presents a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the subject. There are entire sections dedicated to the use of medicines by divers, health monitoring, safety practices, a basic knowledge of physics employed by divers, and the physiological components of this activity.

There are also sections on decompression sickness, its effects, and preventive measures that can be adopted by divers. What makes this book stand out is the numerous diving techniques that are guaranteed to ensure a safer and more enjoyable experience. From an author with a lifetime of experience in diving, the first book on our list is an excellent read for both beginners and expert divers alike.

The Complete Diver: The History, Science and Practice of Scuba Diving
  • Brylske Ph.D., Alex (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 346 Pages - 10/29/2012 (Publication Date) - Dive Training LLC (Publisher)

2. Commercial Diver Training Manual

By Hal Lomax

As one of the most detailed guides on commercial diving and its training, this exhaustive book by Hal Lomax is a must-read for beginners. Important and essential information is packed into the 500-plus pages, ensuring that the reader is left well aware of the intricacies of scuba diving. Filled with figures and plots to render the text more readable, the book provides a detailed study into the many complicated processes used in diving.

An interesting feature of this manual is the notes included to aid you during practical training. This enables the reader to continue their actual diving experience as an extension of learning the theory from this book. The 6th edition departs from the usual editions that were heavily reliant on the NOAA Diving Manual. It can now be used as a standalone guide to diving and uses its own set of figures and detailed explanations.

The book includes sections on the history, evolution, and modern equipment used in diving. There is also a detailed section on the physiological aspects of diving, decompression techniques and sickness, and tricks that can be employed by divers to reduce the chance of injury. Overall, this book provides a thorough and detailed look at the world of diving and aims to provide the reader with an understanding of the common day-to-day life of a commercial diver.

Commercial Diver Training Manual, 6th Edition
  • Hal Lomax (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 540 Pages - 08/01/2016 (Publication Date) - Best Publishing Company (Publisher)

3. Scuba Fundamental: Start Diving the Right Way (The Scuba Series)

By Simon Pridmore

From acclaimed diver and best-selling author Simon Pridmore, Scuba Fundamental is your go-to guide when it comes to learning the foundation of commercial scuba diving. Rather than providing readers with basic information that can be accessed for free on the internet, this guide aims to school the reader on the many pitfalls and challenges that prospective divers face. It also includes anecdotes from learners and experienced divers, so that you know you’re not alone on this journey.

This book differs from your standard run-of-the-mill diving book since it also includes detailed sections on how to go about attending and learning from your first dive classes. While this may not strike you as an important aspect of the sport, it is essential to ensure you pick up the right skills and practice them in the right manner. Referring to this book before starting your actual classes could also save you money down the road, by ensuring you invest in the right guides and equipment.

If you find this book to suit your needs when it comes to diving, then you will want to check out another great title from Simon Pridmore- “Scuba Confidential – An Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Better Diver and Scuba Professional”. Written as an in-depth look into the intricacies of scuba diving accumulated over decades of experience, this book is an excellent source to use in continuation with the Scuba Fundamental. The Confidential edition mainly differs from the Fundamental edition in that it looks at refined techniques that a confident diver may be looking to pick up. However, the Fundamental edition provides a more basic read for new learners and beginners to try their hand at diving. We recommend reading the Fundamental edition first, and then moving on to the more complex Confidential edition once you have a few dives under your belt.

Scuba Fundamental: Start Diving the Right Way (The Scuba Series)
  • Pridmore, Simon (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 210 Pages - 03/21/2016 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

4. NOAA Diving Manual: Diving for Science & Technology

By NOAA Diving Division & Greg McFall

From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US government’s scientific and environmental agency, this diving manual is a dream come true for anyone looking to begin a course in diving. Spanning over 800 pages, this is one of the most detailed books available on the market and provides readers with an in-depth look into the art of scientific diving. Filled with information collected by the NOAA over decades of experience, it condenses a lifetime of knowledge into this must-have guide.

With anecdotes, tips, and tricks from various industry experts in the field of diving, this guide provides important techniques that are essential to learning diving. It emphasizes creating a safe diving environment where new learners can practice and learn this skill without the fear of injury. Now in the 6th edition, the book includes features new and modified sections that aim to include more relevant information.

With inputs from Greg McFall and John N. Heine, this guide focuses on the scientific and technical aspects of scuba diving. It also covers topics such as the use of diving for scientific and academic purposes.

Some topics covered in this book include advanced platform support diving, the use of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), the use of Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles (ROVs), submersible technology, atmospheric diving systems, and underwater photography. The book also includes sections on the use of rebreathers, safe diving in polluted waters, and the latest nitrox tables from NOAA.

NOAA Diving Manual 6th Edition
  • NOAA Diving Division (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 800 Pages - 07/31/2017 (Publication Date) - Best Publishing Company (Publisher)

5. 100 Dives of a Lifetime: World’s Ultimate Underwater Destinations

By Carrie Miller & Brian Skerry (National Geographic)

For the more experienced divers out there who feel our list may cater more to beginners, this next item is especially for you. Now that you’ve mastered the art of diving commercially, the next question on your mind tends to be where your next dive location should be. And that’s where this extremely helpful guide from National Geographic comes up. Authored by Carrie Miller and Brian Skerry, it takes you through 100 exotic and breath-taking locations that you must dive at.

The book is packed with images (well over 350 pictures) bound to catch your attention. Covering sites across the world- from Kona (Hawaii) and Cocos Island (Costa Rica) to Antarctica and the Lighthouse Atoll (Belize), the sites mentioned in this fascinating guide are sure to inspire you on your next dive. The book also includes techniques, tips, and tricks from experts such as Jessica Cramp and David Doubilet.

For the reader, this guide is very helpfully sorted by certification level, meaning that you can now take on a site that suits your level of comfort and expertise. This is especially helpful for those of you without any prior experience diving at sites like these. Moreover, each dive site has its own challenges and diving etiquettes, and this book goes out of its way by ensuring the reader is made aware of the various safe practices to be followed.

100 Dives of a Lifetime: The World's Ultimate Underwater Destinations
  • Hardcover Book
  • Miller, Carrie (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 02/26/2019 (Publication Date) - National Geographic (Publisher)

6. Dive Atlas of the World: An Illustrated Reference to the Best Sites (IMM Lifestyle Books)

By Jack Jackson

From the late diving legend and underwater photography expert Jack Jackson, the Dive Atlas is a fascinating guide that curates some of the top diving sites across the world. Much like the other diving guides in our list, this book condenses some of the must-visit diving locations in over 300 pages of illustrations and stunning photography. Created from the experiences and memoirs of top divers who have personally curated several of these sites, the book is an authoritative guide to the diving industry.

Complete with anecdotes detailing the adventures of experienced professionals, there are detailed sections on each site. Including the quirks and challenges of the top diving spots, the difficulty level is also kept in mind to ensure divers have a safe experience. There is also a detailed and comprehensive appendix that provides information on these locations, flights, and other travel data, the climate around the year, optimal times to visit, the facilities in and around the sites, recommended dive operators, and helpful contacts in the region.

What helps this book stand out is the stunning photography that fills its pages. From wreckage sites to coral reefs, the images are bound to awaken the travel bug within you. There is also special input from Lawson Wood- an avid diver and underwater photographer, who teamed up with Jack Jackson on this venture to create a comprehensive guide to the top diving sites around the world.

7. Cold Water Diving: A Guide to Ice Diving

By John N. Heine

Our list so far looks into the top books that cover the essentials and basics of commercial scuba diving. But just as with most adventure sports and activities, there is another side to diving- Cold Water Diving. As the name suggests, divers subject themselves to incredibly low temperatures to appreciate the beauty of regions that stay perennially cold. Apt for readers who wish to explore the Arctic and Antarctic regions, this book is considered to be the mainstay for professionals and trainees alike.

The author- John Heine, has trained as an ice diver and served as a diving safety officer for over 3 decades. This guide curates his experiences and techniques that have seen him through some of the challenges of ice diving. The book includes detailed sections on the environment, training, equipment, thermal protection, site evaluation and preparation, safety and emergency procedures, and dive planning in cold conditions.

We recommend having a go at the other books in this list first before you head over to check this one out. This is mainly because cold water diving can be incredibly challenging and tricky to master if you are not comfortable with the basics of diving.

We suggest diving at a few sites that allow you to acclimatize to scuba diving, and then progressing to more advanced levels such as ice diving. The safety tips and recommendations in this book are well thought out and follow industry-standard practices. Following them could well save your life especially in the harsh conditions divers are subjected to in ice diving.

Cold Water Diving: A Guide to Ice Diving, 2nd Edition
  • John N. Heine (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 79 Pages - 10/01/2015 (Publication Date) - Best Publishing Company (Publisher)

8. Deep Into Deco: The Diver’s Decompression Textbook

By Asser Salama

From experienced diver and software enthusiast Asser Salama, this guide to diving decompression is a must-read for beginners and professionals alike. Decompression, or deco as it’s known in the industry, is integral to the safety of the dive crew during any expedition. The risk of injury increases manifold when you don’t follow safe practices, and this book serves to bridge the gap between theoretical and practical knowledge.

Filled with the personal experiences of top divers who have executed hundreds of successful dives in different locations, this book is ideal to introduce even a beginner to the skill of safe diving. Special emphasis is laid on the history and evolution of standard decompression techniques. There are also detailed appendices on the nitrox tables, and post-diving no-fly acceleration times. The latest edition includes revised sections that encompass modern technology and changes to standard deco.

What makes this book stand out is the easy-to-read and simple language used, which ensures even beginners can quickly grasp the technical intricacies of safe deco. The lack of complex and verbose terms makes this a valuable addition to the library of any diving enthusiast.

Deep Into Deco: The Diver's Decompression Textbook, Revised Edition
  • Asser Salama (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 132 Pages - 03/08/2018 (Publication Date) - Best Publishing Company (Publisher)

9. Scuba Diving: The Authoritative Guide to Safe, Enjoyable Diving

By Dennis Graver

Diving expert and photography enthusiast Dennis Graver combines both his skills in this comprehensive guide to the art of diving. With 27 diving manuals under his belt, this book is the latest in his series on safe diving practices. It is an essential read for a beginner, and it works its way up to advanced diving concepts while using simple and easy-to-understand language. The latest edition includes detailed sections on diving instructions for different sites around the world. The underwater photography is stunning and creates a sense of anticipation in divers waiting to explore new sites.

Some of the topics covered in this comprehensive guide include proper decompression practices, hand signals used in diving, the intricacies of boat diving, buddy checks and the correct procedure for buddy swimming, dive planning, pressure equalization techniques, selecting and maintaining scuba equipment, marine wildlife to watch out on your dives, common underwater hazards, and emergency procedures that could save lives.

Spanning over 250 pages, this guide is an industry standard when it comes to the fundamentals of diving. Particularly noteworthy is how the book repeatedly puts across the message of safe diving to ensure it is an enjoyable experience for all parties involved.

Scuba Diving
  • Graver, Dennis (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 10/14/2016 (Publication Date) - Human Kinetics (Publisher)

10. The Commercial Diver’s Handbook: Surface-Supplied Diving, Decompression, and Chamber Operations

Field Guide
By Hal Lomax

The US Navy Diving Manual by Hal Lomax is another industry-wide standard book used across the world. It is an excellent source of material for beginners and professionals alike, with detailed sections on the fundamentals of diving. Now in the second edition, the 300-plus pages are packed with information and the intricacies of safe diving. Interestingly, this book is a staple when it comes to both commercial and military diving.

Some of the contents of this guide are the 3 standard decompression tables, mixed gas tables, diving medicines, treatment procedures, chamber operations, nitrox operations, and nitrox tables. The book included inputs from both the United States Navy and Charles Trombley of the Canadian Navy. There are minor additions from the first edition, ensuring the book is technologically relevant.

We recommend it as an excellent foundation course for commercial diving. The text is easy to read and understand, is well supplemented by figures and tables, and covers the broad strokes of diving. Special emphasis is also laid on the use of appropriate equipment and safety procedures.

The Commercial Diver's Handbook: Surface-Supplied Diving, Decompression, and Chamber Operations Field Guide, 2nd Edition
  • Hal Lomax (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 332 Pages - 10/01/2020 (Publication Date) - Best Publishing Company (Publisher)

11. Scientific Diving Techniques: A Practical Guide for the Research Diver
By John N. Heine

The second book in our list authored by experienced diver John Heine, this 200-plus page book is an excellent guide to scientific and research-oriented diving techniques.

Placing a larger emphasis on gearing the reader up for the practical nature of diving, it is a must-read for anyone interested in scientific diving. It is used all over the globe as a standard reference text in colleges and educational institutions. Moreover, the book is often used in conjunction with The Complete Diver by Alex Brylske Ph.D., who also features in our list.

This guide spans over 200 pages and covers concepts including general diving guidelines, scientific diving, the basics of research diving, marine habitats that are often explored, aquatic ecosystems, diving equipment, equipment checks, locating and planning dives, archaeological studies of dive sites, underwater photography and videography, and experiments performed by divers.

This book stands out for its vast collection of source material totalling over 500 guides and research documents. A section on training exercises to be used by diving safety officers in the scientific diving community is also provided.

Scientific Diving Techniques: A Practical Guide for the Research Diver, 2nd Edition
  • John N. Heine (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 232 Pages - 06/01/2017 (Publication Date) - Best Publishing Company (Publisher)

Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendations on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

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About Author

Ajay Menon is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, with an integrated major in Ocean Engineering and Naval Architecture. Besides writing, he balances chess and works out tunes on his keyboard during his free time.

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