The 6 Best Books About the Ocean – From Fact to Fiction

Written by Angie Menjivar
Published: September 25, 2022
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Under the sea is a world so mysterious, there are entire species and habitats that humans have yet to discover. The earth is more water than land, and on land, there is plenty to explore. When it comes to exploring the depths of the oceans or even what lines the shore, it takes a guide. Sometimes, that guide is a real person who helps you understand sea life during a scuba diving lesson. Other times, it’s an educational book you can explore alone or with your kiddos from the comfort of home. The books we highlight below cover everything from children’s books to fiction novels written for adults. You’re sure to find something that piques your interest, whether you’re shopping for yourself or a loved one. We also help you find the right book about the ocean with a helpful guide and give you some insight into what to do when you want to take your interest in the ocean from a book into actual open waters.

  1. Ocean: A Visual Encyclopedia
  2. Ocean: A Visual Encyclopedia
    • Fully of vivid photos and fun facts
    • Catalog pages that give you information on different animals and geographical features
    • Both adults and children will enjoy
    Check Amazon
  3. Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist (Women in Science Books, Marine Biology for Kids, Shark Gifts)
  4. Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist (Women in Science Books, Marine Biology for Kids, Shark Gifts)
    • Best for kids interested in STEM
    • Contains a ton of fascinating and beautifully illustrated shark information
    • Included in the New York Time's "Twelve Feminist Books for Boys and Girls"
    Check Amazon
  5. The House By The Ocean (Myrtle Beach Series Book 3)
  6. The House By The Ocean (Myrtle Beach Series Book 3)
    • Fictional novel full of mystery
    • Full of fun characters
    • 4.4 out of five star-rating by customers
    Check Amazon
  7. Oceanology: The Secrets of the Sea Revealed
  8. Oceanology: The Secrets of the Sea Revealed
    • Incredibly informative and offers a gorgeous introduction to the ocean environment and marine life
    • Explores everything from the great whales to microscopic plankton
    • Book is rated 4.9 out of five stars
    Check Amazon
  9. Commotion in the Ocean
  10. Commotion in the Ocean
    • Perfect book for kids between two and four years old
    • Full of memorable and imaginative poems
    • 4.8 out of five stars from customers
    Check Amazon

Ocean: A Visual Encyclopedia

The best overall book about the ocean is Ocean: A Visual Encyclopedia. This book is available in hardcover or a paperback version and is designed to help you take a deep dive into all of the ocean’s many wonders. The ocean covers 70% of the planet and yet there are still so many mysteries about it. With this incredibly vivid book, you can watch as the ocean comes to life. The detail included in this book is mind-bending and it’s perfect for children who are curious about the ocean. However, it’s also a fantastic encyclopedia with stunning pictures that adults can enjoy. Inside the book, you’ll find annotated artwork and some step-by-step processes that help to lend an understanding of the vast underwater worlds of the ocean. You’ll come across some fun facts and data boxes that deliver the key information you need about the image you’re perceiving.

You’ll also get to enjoy some catalog pages that give you information on different animals and geographical features as well as double-page images that are sure to take your breath away. This book is packed with information about the ocean that is easy to understand so that children who are interested in learning more about the ocean can grasp the concepts presented. It covers everything from the different sea animals to the different habitats and it even touches on climate change. It’s a very high-quality book with incredible images in graphics that perfectly complement the information presented.

This book is popular among customers. It has earned 4.8 out of five stars. Many people have purchased this book for their kids and find that it has quickly become one of their favorites. For instance, one verified buyer calls this book intriguing, informative, and engaging. She comments that it is able to touch on current events and helps to encourage critical thinking but without overcomplicating any of the subject matter. She purchased this book for her daughter who has always been obsessed with learning about different animals and it was an absolute hit. She does mention, however, that her daughter is about six years old and that the way this book is written is suitable for children who are a bit older but no matter what, this is a book that her daughter will keep on her shelf for many years to come.

Best Overall
Ocean: A Visual Encyclopedia
  • Fully of vivid photos and fun facts
  • Catalog pages that give you information on different animals and geographical features
  • Both adults and children will enjoy
Check Amazon

Big Beautiful Ocean: A Photographic Exploration-From Shores to Reefs to the Depths of the Ocean

You don’t have to spend more than $20 just to pick up an awesome book about the ocean. This book is very budget-friendly, and you can even pick up some used options for a lesser price. The book is called Big Beautiful Ocean and offers a photographic exploration of different sea animals with simple and easy-to-understand text. This is a perfect book for young children who are curious about the ocean but who don’t yet have the reading comprehension to understand too many facts. This book approaches the text a little differently by adding fun captions that deliver humor and fun facts with each image.

The book is designed to cover everything from reefs to what lies in the depths of the ocean. If you have a kiddo who is curious about the ocean and would like to learn more, this is a great book that offers those eye-catching photos that children need to keep their attention engaged. Some of these images cover both pages and you can expect them to be sharp and colorful and certainly, toddler-approved. Whether you have a kiddo at home or you’re a teacher looking for more books to incorporate into your classroom, this is an ocean book for kids that surely won’t disappoint (or break the bank!).

This book has been rated 4.7 out of five stars. Customers describe it as vibrant with really beautiful photos. They shared it with one and two-year-olds and found that these toddlers are immediately mesmerized. The small phrases are just enough to read along and entertain your child as he or she takes in incredible photos. One customer is a teacher who says she really appreciated that the text and the book were so simple and decodable. She describes the images as phenomenal and found herself completely engulfed in them the first time she reviewed them. She highly recommends it.

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist

Whereas the two books we highlighted above are all about exploring the ocean with real photography, this book is about Eugenie Clark, a woman who became known as the most fearless scientist. This is actually one of the New York Times’ 12 books for feminist boys and girls. The story is about a woman who showed courage when it came to diving and discovering and who ultimately serves as an inspiration to all. This is a science picture book that is perfect, whether you’re a parent or a teacher. In fact, this was named the best children’s book in 2017 by Parents magazine.

The story of Eugenie’s love for the ocean started when she first visited an aquarium. She saw sharks and was immediately fascinated. All she wanted to do was keep studying them throughout her life, but she realized that her immediate response to sharks is not the usual response to sharks. She noticed that others saw sharks as ugly and scary, and they also seemed to have an opinion about her becoming a scientist. Well, instead of being dissuaded, Eugenie decided to devote her life to learning all about sharks. She earned several different college degrees and made countless discoveries. Her efforts and accomplishments have been revered and she even earned the nickname “shark lady.”

Customers rate this book 4.9 out of five stars. Teachers use this in the classroom as part of lessons meant to inform and inspire and other children have received this as a gift from their parents. If you have a kiddo in your life who is fascinated by sharks and the ocean, this is a great story to gift them with. It tells of perseverance, of adversity when faced with opposing opinions, and it demonstrates how having a passion for something can drive you to accomplish your goals. One mom bought this for her daughter because she wanted her to learn beyond other people’s fears when it comes to sharks. She wanted to encourage her to explore the ocean and now she wants to scuba dive and see some sharks with her mom!

Best Non-Fiction
Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist (Women in Science Books, Marine Biology for Kids, Shark Gifts)
  • Best for kids interested in STEM
  • Contains a ton of fascinating and beautifully illustrated shark information
  • Included in the New York Time's "Twelve Feminist Books for Boys and Girls"
Check Amazon

The House By the Ocean

If you’re feeling like taking a deep dive into a fiction novel, you’ll love The House By the Ocean. This book was written by Ivory Fields and is about a woman suffering from heartbreak after the loss of her husband. She decides to start fresh at Myrtle Beach, but she brings her family secrets along with her. She has left Oregon to start anew and has inherited her late grandmother’s beach house. She moved to this quiet and idyllic town in South Carolina to get a fresh start by the ocean and begin the process of healing. Just as she arrives, she discovers a startling secret. She has a long-lost twin. This single piece of information sets her off on another set of discoveries, but she can’t seem to find the answers she’s looking for.

She continues directing her energy forward and decides to finally pursue her dream of opening a boutique coffee shop. As she follows through with her ultimate dream, she can’t help but shake the questions surrounding her long-lost twin. She meets a man who says he has the answers she’s seeking, but the meeting is brief, and he seems to disappear. This is a fun and relaxing fiction novel that incorporates gorgeous themes, feel-good emotions, and clean romance. You follow 45-year-old Leanne as she gets her business off the ground, discovers the mysteries behind her family, and ultimately works on healing and finding a life she loves in Myrtle Beach.

Customers rate this fictional novel 4.4 out of five stars. They highly recommend this book and comment that it’s another interesting part of this author’s mystery novels and the character deepens, which adds a layer of intrigue to the story. This is a series so if you are curious, we would invite you to explore the other two novels written by the same author. Ultimately, it’s about the process everyone eventually goes through when it’s time to rebuild life after loss. Mystery is woven expertly throughout this book and because it’s short and fun, you’ll read through it in record time.

Best Fiction
The House By The Ocean (Myrtle Beach Series Book 3)
  • Fictional novel full of mystery
  • Full of fun characters
  • 4.4 out of five star-rating by customers
Check Amazon

Best Informative for Adults: Oceanology: The Secrets of the Sea Revealed

This book is available in Kindle, audiobooks, and a hardcover. Oceanology: The Secrets of the Sea Revealed offers an elegant approach to the exploration of the sea. It is incredibly informative and offers a gorgeous introduction to the ocean environment and marine life. Within the ocean, there are so many marvels and Oceanology brings them to the surface in this incredible work. The pages of this book are filled with photography that will both mesmerize and intrigue you. It explores everything from the great whales to microscopic plankton. You’ll explore more about seaweed as well as starfish. It’s a glimpse into every corner of the ocean that humans have explored thus far.

Not only are you getting tons of incredible imagery, but you’re also getting very simple and clear illustrations that explain the marine environment and all of its adaptations. For example, you will learn how a stone fish uses its deadly venom and how a sponge stays alive by using the sustenance in passing currents. Have you heard of undersea volcanoes or tsunamis? If you haven’t, this book will tell you all about them. It offers a broad range of topics and delves into pieces of information you may not have even thought existed. If you are at all interested in learning about the ocean, this is a book you absolutely have to pick up. Plus, it doubles as an amazing coffee table piece.

This book is rated 4.9 out of five stars. Customers love how gorgeous it is. It’s incredibly informative overall but it also serves as a beautiful coffee table piece that you can share with guests and family. There are tons of pictures in it and a lot of information that is substantiated with a list of references. Customers have found that once they’ve presented it to their friends or family, they end up getting a copy for themselves. This book is described as a beautifully curated publishing. Verified buyers say that if you’re fascinated by the ocean, you will love it.

Best Informative for Adults
Oceanology: The Secrets of the Sea Revealed
  • Incredibly informative and offers a gorgeous introduction to the ocean environment and marine life
  • Explores everything from the great whales to microscopic plankton
  • Book is rated 4.9 out of five stars
Check Amazon

Commotion in the Ocean

Well, we have highlighted a few other children’s books in this list, but this 32-page book is perfect for kids between two and four years old. It’s available in hardcover, paperback, audio CD, and even as a board book. It’s a fun, illustrated book that contains a collection of poems with really fun rhymes that children love. It’s all about the different creatures that live in and also around the ocean. Because the poems are so memorable and the illustrations are so fun, children are really drawn to the imagery during the experience of being read to.

This book has earned 4.8 out of five stars from customers. They say it tickles the imagination and find that the kiddos they read it to are intrigued and remain engaged. If you have a kiddo with a curious mind, you’re likely going to be asked to read it over and over again. The pictures are very colorful and cute, and it’s described as a wonderful way to introduce sea animals to little ones. When reading to children, the rhythm and rhyme of stories is very helpful. One customer says that the unique sounds spelled out throughout the book are enjoyed very much by his son, who has started to mimic them. Overall, it’s a fun book for little ones—and for parents/caregivers/teachers as well!

Best for Kids
Commotion in the Ocean
  • Perfect book for kids between two and four years old
  • Full of memorable and imaginative poems
  • 4.8 out of five stars from customers
Check Amazon

How to Choose the Right Book About the Ocean

There are so many books about the ocean to explore and if you’re not sure about which one to pick, try to consider what you’re interested in learning about. Are you interested in taking a deep dive into the ocean’s creatures and learning more about reefs and plankton along with sharks and whales? Or do you prefer to enjoy the ocean from the shore? Do you appreciate the ocean used as a metaphor to describe the depth and complexity of life? If you’re able to answer that initial question, you will be better directed toward the type of book that is best suited for you.

There are encyclopedia-style books that provide you with a look into the ocean without actually getting wet. You can explore all the underwater creatures and sea life and learn factual information with each new page. These books are designed to be educational and deliver a wealth of information to help you get acquainted with everything that resides beneath the water’s surface. It’s a great way to get your feet wet, so to speak, and provide you with tons of insight and fun facts that make you feel like you’re getting to know the ocean and everything that lives in it.

You can also opt for a fiction book about the ocean which may incorporate ocean themes but will ultimately be about the different characters portrayed within it. There are non-fiction stories about the ocean as well. For example, the fearless scientist highlighted in this list who is also known as the “shark lady” is a true story about a woman who went against the grain and followed her passion for the ocean and sharks and became widely recognized for it. If you’re purchasing a book for children, there are plenty of options as well. These are written in more of an elementary style and provide children with an easy-to-understand piece of work that also offers plenty of visuals.

How to Explore the Ocean Safely

After you’ve looked through the pages of a book about the ocean, there is an intrigue that comes alive inside of you. You may decide that you want to go explore the ocean and see for yourself what kind of creatures you might encounter. To do so, however, you have to be extremely safe. The ocean is certainly filled with incredible wonders, but it’s also filled with a lot of danger if you are not safe. If you’re interested in exploring a beach and going out to swim, make sure that there’s always a lifeguard on duty. Whether or not you’re an avid swimmer doesn’t matter when the ocean currents can easily pull you out. When a lifeguard is on duty, you will have eyes on you at all times and will receive aid should you need it.

Make sure you only swim in areas that are marked safe for swimming. Sometimes, the sand descends quickly as soon as the water starts lapping onto the shore and that means you’re in deep water within just a few steps. These areas are not safe for swimming and are usually marked as such. Rip currents take many swimmers by surprise and can quickly turn a fun day at the beach into a deadly situation. Make sure that you learn more about these currents and what to do if you find yourself caught in one. It can be easy to get carried away enjoying a day out in the ocean, but these are facts that you cannot ignore and that you should prep for before you even head out to the beach.

If you’re interested in snorkeling, find a snorkeling instructor to take you out with a group of others. This way, you can learn all of the safety practices upfront and can avoid any potentially dangerous situations for yourself or your loved ones. Snorkeling is a great activity that can be done in groups and that can be done with an instructor. It allows you to really take a look at what is underneath the water. You can check out beautiful reefs, fish, and other sea creatures in a safe environment that is overseen by someone who knows what they’re doing.

If you’ve done all of that and you want to keep exploring the sea, then you’ll probably become interested in deep-sea diving. This is also done with instructors, and you typically have to receive some certifications to make sure that you know how to use the equipment, know how to respond in emergency situations, and know all of the processes required to keep you safe when deep-sea diving. If this is a passion of yours and you decide to go for it, you’ll find an incredible community of other deep-sea lovers out there who you can connect with not just under the sea but on land as well.

About the Author

Angie is a writer with over 10 years of experience developing content for product and brand reviews, focusing much of her time on animals of all types. A cat owner herself, she enjoys writing articles on beloved pets that both inform and entertain her audience.

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