The best scuba diving books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about scuba diving and why they recommend each book.

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Twelve Mile Bank

By Nicholas Harvey,

Book cover of Twelve Mile Bank: AJ Bailey Adventure Series - Book One

The Cayman Islands are my favorite place in the world, so a mystery featuring a female divemaster on Grand Cayman is right up my alley. AJ Bailey, the protagonist, is a realistic portrayal of a woman in a man’s world. Many books in the tropical islands have female protagonists, but they are often gun-toting, knife-wielding super-models, not realistic women like Harvey’s protagonist. 

The diving details are spot on; the dive site descriptions are accurate; and the thrilling story will keep you turning pages to the very end. A great start to a super series.


Who am I?

Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the underwater world, so as an adult, I learned to scuba dive. I took to it like a fish to water, and my husband and I spent the next several years traveling to tropical islands to experience the local dive conditions whenever possible. I loved learning how every island had a different culture and a different undersea environment. Since I love tropical islands, scuba diving, mysteries, and adventure stories, these books really hit my sweet spot.


I wrote...

In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller

By Sharon Ward,

Book cover of In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller

What is my book about?

Underwater, Fin is a supremely competent young woman. On land, not so much. She has problems in every part of her life, from her scheming ex-husband to her career as chief underwater photographer at the oceanographic institute founded by her mother. She's got very few friends and no love life to speak of. But her troubles really escalate the day of the first accident...

Deep Shadow

By Nick Sullivan,

Book cover of Deep Shadow

As a long-time diver, I was enthralled by the details of the undersea world. Set on the tropical island of Bonaire, a scuba diver’s paradise, this book introduces the reader to two great characters, divemasters Boone Fischer and Emily Durand. 

The author interweaves Boone and Emily’s budding romance with compelling descriptions of the diving and the sea life they encounter. The way the two divemasters get involved in the search for the drug submarine at the heart of the mystery is plausible. Twists and turns on every page keep the reader guessing about the fate of the sub, its crew, the cruise ship, and most critically, the two highly appealing divemasters who use every skill they have to avert disaster. I was instantly hooked on the series.


Who am I?

Even as a kid, I was intrigued by the underwater world, so as an adult, I learned to scuba dive. I took to it like a fish to water, and my husband and I spent the next several years traveling to tropical islands to experience the local dive conditions whenever possible. I loved learning how every island had a different culture and a different undersea environment. Since I love tropical islands, scuba diving, mysteries, and adventure stories, these books really hit my sweet spot.


I wrote...

In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller

By Sharon Ward,

Book cover of In Deep: A Fin Fleming Thriller

What is my book about?

Underwater, Fin is a supremely competent young woman. On land, not so much. She has problems in every part of her life, from her scheming ex-husband to her career as chief underwater photographer at the oceanographic institute founded by her mother. She's got very few friends and no love life to speak of. But her troubles really escalate the day of the first accident...

Swimming with the Dead

By Kathy Brandt,

Book cover of Swimming with the Dead: An Underwater Investigation

Kathy’s series – which I wish she’d continue one day – inspired me to include my passion for scuba diving in my novels. Her main character, Hannah Sampson, is a member of the Denver Underwater CSI team, who’s asked to help the police in the British Virgin Islands investigate a case. Needless to say, she stays on the island for the following books and becomes embroiled in hair-raising cases that challenge her above and below the water.

Kathy published her series at a time when very few novels centered around diving, and certainly didn’t include a female protagonist. I found her work transported me to the islands, and enthused me to create AJ Bailey and subsequently, Nora Sommer.


Who am I?

My wife suggested we try scuba diving while on holiday in Grand Cayman. We were already falling in love with the island, and the incredible experience underwater opened a whole new world to us. From that moment on, our yearly travels changed completely. Our destination choices were now based upon diving opportunities. That was twenty years ago. Today, I’m a certified divemaster with dives all over the US (including Hawaii), the Caribbean (including Cuba), Australia, and even Iceland. Throw in my sense of adventure as a former race car driver, motorcycle rider, and outdoor adventurer, and I had plenty of personal experiences to create the AJ Bailey series.


I wrote...

Twelve Mile Bank: AJ Bailey Adventure Series - Book One

By Nicholas Harvey,

Book cover of Twelve Mile Bank: AJ Bailey Adventure Series - Book One

What is my book about?

A mysterious shipwreck. A ruthless treasure hunter. A race against time. Cayman Islands divemaster AJ Bailey is searching for a long-forgotten WWII U-boat at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. Armed with nothing more than an adventurous spirit and her late grandfather’s tale, she's determined to find the submarine and the secret it protects.

My first novel was a passion project. The old adage says "write what you know…" so that’s what I did. Blending my love of scuba diving, the Cayman Islands, and WWII history, Twelve Mile Bank became one woman’s quest to rediscover a lost U-boat. But amongst the action, the story’s backbone is AJ’s touching relationship with her late grandfather, and his captivating stories which fuel her search.

Into the Planet

By Jill Heinerth,

Book cover of Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver

Jill isn’t only the world’s top female cave diver, she’s one of the best, period. What’s amazing about this book is how it reads like a hair-raising fantastical adventure tale, yet it’s all true.

I’ve dabbled in cave diving in the cenotes of Mexico, and it is certainly addictive stuff, but I can’t imagine going to the places Jill has risked her life to discover.

This could easily have been a choice in my females who kick-ass list as well!


Who am I?

My wife suggested we try scuba diving while on holiday in Grand Cayman. We were already falling in love with the island, and the incredible experience underwater opened a whole new world to us. From that moment on, our yearly travels changed completely. Our destination choices were now based upon diving opportunities. That was twenty years ago. Today, I’m a certified divemaster with dives all over the US (including Hawaii), the Caribbean (including Cuba), Australia, and even Iceland. Throw in my sense of adventure as a former race car driver, motorcycle rider, and outdoor adventurer, and I had plenty of personal experiences to create the AJ Bailey series.


I wrote...

Twelve Mile Bank: AJ Bailey Adventure Series - Book One

By Nicholas Harvey,

Book cover of Twelve Mile Bank: AJ Bailey Adventure Series - Book One

What is my book about?

A mysterious shipwreck. A ruthless treasure hunter. A race against time. Cayman Islands divemaster AJ Bailey is searching for a long-forgotten WWII U-boat at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. Armed with nothing more than an adventurous spirit and her late grandfather’s tale, she's determined to find the submarine and the secret it protects.

My first novel was a passion project. The old adage says "write what you know…" so that’s what I did. Blending my love of scuba diving, the Cayman Islands, and WWII history, Twelve Mile Bank became one woman’s quest to rediscover a lost U-boat. But amongst the action, the story’s backbone is AJ’s touching relationship with her late grandfather, and his captivating stories which fuel her search.

How to Breathe Underwater

By Julie Orringer,

Book cover of How to Breathe Underwater

In my very favorite story in this book full of favorites, “Pilgrims,” young children cope with adult reality in a Lord of the Flies-like atmosphere where a tragic accident is offset by the innocent gift of a lost tooth, a talisman meant to create magic in a world that can seem devoid of it. How to Breathe forefronts girls and teens struggling with guilt, peer pressure, identity, envy, sickness, death. Sounds grim, but the writing, the world Orringer creates, is as beautiful and moving as it is dark. Her characters are the kind you can live inside, remember being, feel for. I think about them a lot, still, and I read the book more than a decade ago.


Who am I?

Whenever I take on a new short story project, I read other writers to admire them, study them, and be inspired by them; it’s like talking with old friends. These five books took me through the heart and soul of what it is to be or to have a mother, to be or to have children, to love or to lose love, to maintain the rituals and magic of family or let them go. Although I believe men can write female characters and women can write males, I really appreciate the fine-tuned ear for the nuances of motherhood, womanhood, and relationships I find in collections written by women about women.


I wrote...

Unaccustomed to Grace

By Lesley Pratt Bannatyne,

Book cover of Unaccustomed to Grace

What is my book about?

The stories in Unaccustomed to Grace are often set in a slant version of reality that is ebullient, fierce, and reassuringly human. In “Waiting for Ivy” a woman grieving the loss of her infant daughter discovers a listserv of parents whose dead children have been returned, as if the tragedy were a clerical error. In “Corpse Walks Into a Bar” an indigent loner agrees to bury a reanimated corpse, not realizing what it takes to find a resting place when the dead are as self-serving as the living. Ultimately, the book plumbs the messiness we bring on ourselves with the best of intentions, and how we work our way toward redemption. The Boston Globe calls Grace “wise, warm, and wily.”

Deep

By James Nestor,

Book cover of Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves

Okay, so Deep isn’t specifically about women, or scuba diving – it tackles freediving – but includes females and anyone who loves diving in any form should read this book. The meticulous research into the physiology and psychology of human beings underwater is simply fascinating. Nestor ventures off into all kinds of territory, from octopus intelligence; to whales conversing; to humans holding a single breath for an inhuman amount of time.

Freediving is the common theme in the book, but it is far more than that. This is an in-depth study of life beneath the waves from an intriguing perspective.


Who am I?

My wife suggested we try scuba diving while on holiday in Grand Cayman. We were already falling in love with the island, and the incredible experience underwater opened a whole new world to us. From that moment on, our yearly travels changed completely. Our destination choices were now based upon diving opportunities. That was twenty years ago. Today, I’m a certified divemaster with dives all over the US (including Hawaii), the Caribbean (including Cuba), Australia, and even Iceland. Throw in my sense of adventure as a former race car driver, motorcycle rider, and outdoor adventurer, and I had plenty of personal experiences to create the AJ Bailey series.


I wrote...

Twelve Mile Bank: AJ Bailey Adventure Series - Book One

By Nicholas Harvey,

Book cover of Twelve Mile Bank: AJ Bailey Adventure Series - Book One

What is my book about?

A mysterious shipwreck. A ruthless treasure hunter. A race against time. Cayman Islands divemaster AJ Bailey is searching for a long-forgotten WWII U-boat at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. Armed with nothing more than an adventurous spirit and her late grandfather’s tale, she's determined to find the submarine and the secret it protects.

My first novel was a passion project. The old adage says "write what you know…" so that’s what I did. Blending my love of scuba diving, the Cayman Islands, and WWII history, Twelve Mile Bank became one woman’s quest to rediscover a lost U-boat. But amongst the action, the story’s backbone is AJ’s touching relationship with her late grandfather, and his captivating stories which fuel her search.

Deep Focus

By Nick Sullivan,

Book cover of Deep Focus

As a veteran actor of stage and screen, Sullivan is well versed in the art of movie-making. In his best-selling book, Deep Focus, he blends this along with his love of SCUBA diving and the Cayman Islands into a great coastal mystery and suspense read. As he asks in his book description, “Who wouldn’t want to shoot a movie in paradise? What could possibly go wrong?” As it turns out, plenty of things. So, grab a good sipping rum, settle into your favorite reading chair, and prepare to be entertained.


Who am I?

I’m an entrepreneur who was born literally within sight of the Intracoastal Waterway in South Florida. Got my first boat (a dinghy) when I was six. I used to drive an airboat on Lake Okeechobee and learned to fly back when I was a teenager. Since then, I’ve flown over a dozen different types of planes and even a helicopter. As a kid, I spent a lot of time in the Bahamas, Virgin Islands, and the Antilles. In my late teens I worked on various private sportfishing boats in Florida, Georgia, and the Bahamas. With this much time spent on, in, under, or around the water, I was destined to write coastal novels. 


I wrote...

Coastal Jury: Coastal Adventure Series Number 9

By Don Rich,

Book cover of Coastal Jury: Coastal Adventure Series Number 9

What is my book about?

Some crime figures consider avoiding indictments to be a deadly serious business, with murder as the best solution to the problem. One recently reformed man is determined to save the lives of his friends as well as the new woman in his life, even though it means exposing his own criminal past. He could end up going to prison, though first, he’ll need to survive. But sometimes people with everything to lose can be more dangerous than those with nothing to lose at all. “Rut” Rutledge is determined to prove it.

Life in the Ocean

By Claire A. Nivola,

Book cover of Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle

This book follows the accomplishments of Sylvia Earle who “lost her heart to the water” as a child. She snorkeled, then learned scuba diving. She kept on, joining an ocean expedition as the only woman among 70 men, lived underwater for 2 weeks, designed a deep sea diving bubble, and more. “Wow!” I love that she stayed so long to learn that each individual fish is different from another, that whales swim like ballerinas, and every spoonful of ocean is full of tiny, and sometimes sparkly, creatures. Most important she learned how vital the ocean is to the health of our planet and better ways to take care of it.        


Who am I?

I'm an award-winning, best-selling children’s author who writes about unexpected “wow” moments that stick with me. I look for books and articIes that take me on a deep journey into unknown environments. I aim for nonfiction that reads like a story with an emotional connection to new creatures with fascinating lifestyles. As a writer of dozens of books for children, I always learn much more that can go into each effort. Each book comes into a hazy focus after tons of research. The best “wow” details get woven into an incredible story full of surprise, joy, and admiration for those struggling to survive on our changing plant.  


I wrote...

Into the Sea

By Brenda Z. Guiberson,

Book cover of Into the Sea

What is my book about?

One day I went snorkeling and had a moment with a magnificent sea turtle. “Wow!” Where did she come from? What did she eat? What dangers did she face? I had so many questions and didn’t stop until I had answers. This led to a book about an endangered sea turtle that hatches on a sandy beach and finds ways to survive in the beautiful but dangerous ocean.  

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