Rob Neto was born in Piscataway, NJ to immigrant parents who had come to the USA from Portugal. He grew up speaking Portuguese at home and learned English from watching Saturday morning cartoons. He lived his entire childhood life in Piscataway where he was a member of the high school drama club and marching band. He was cast in several productions in high school to include Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

Rob enlisted in the US Army in 1989 and served in both Military Intelligence and Military Police units. He was called up on orders during Operation Desert Storm but the conflict ended less than a week before he was set to deploy. He did receive the National Defense Service Medal for serving during this conflict for his service in protecting Fort Huachuca, the US Army Strategic Communications Command headquarters and US Army Intelligence Center. After 3 years he received an honorable medical discharge for injuries received during his time in service.

After his time in service, Rob went on to earn multiple degrees to include a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, Bachelor’s in Nursing, and a Master’s in Literature. He taught English Composition and Literature classes as well as Business Administration classes at several community colleges in Arizona for more than 10 years. Rob worked as a registered nurse for almost 20 years before retiring to pursue his passion.

Rob has written both fiction and non-fiction books. His first book, Sidemount Diving The Almost Comprehensive Guide was published in 2015 and was a great success. Over the next few years more and more manufacturers introduced sidemount rigs and different techniques were introduced and evolved. This brought about the 2nd edition of Sidemount Diving in 2020. The 2nd edition is more than twice as long and contains significantly more information.

Sidemount Diving The Almost Comprehensive Guide has been called one of the best and most comprehensive books on sidemount diving by InDepth Magazine. This comprehensive guide has sold thousands of copies in over a dozen countries worldwide! It has also been translated into Dutch, German, and Spanish and is currently being translated into additional languages.

Rob has been scuba diving for 20 years and cave and sidemount diving for almost as long. When Rob began diving sidemount there were only two commercially sold sidemount rigs, very few sidemount divers, and even less instructors. There was also only one book published by a training agency that provided a brief overview. After teaching himself by trial and error how to maximize the use of a sidemount system Rob decided to become a sidemount instructor. At the time only one agency offered a sidemount class and there were very few instructor trainers. Rob traveled several hours to meet and dive with an instructor trainer and earn his instructor rating. After teaching sidemount for a few years Rob decided to put his teachings to paper and publish a book.

Rob has also spent extensive time exploring caves throughout the world. He has explored and lined several miles of virgin passage in Florida, Mexico, and France. He considers his work in the Cueva Quebrada cave system located in Cozumel, Mexico to be his most successful exploration project. When he began diving Cueva Quebrada there was only about 29,000 feet of lined and mapped passage in that system. Because of Rob’s efforts, Cueva Quebrada now measures in at more than 85,000 feet of lined and mapped passage. This includes la Sección Escondido, which Rob found in 2016. This section alone contains more than 30,000 feet of lined and mapped passage, exceeding the original known length of the entire system.

Rob has also ventured into the world of fiction. He was largely influenced to begin writing fiction when he read how John Grisham had come up with the idea for his first novel – A Time to Kill. A Time to Kill was inspired by true events that occurred in a small town in Mississippi. Grisham asked himself how he thought people would react if the father of a girl who was assaulted stood trial for taking justice into his own hands and killing the men who assaulted his daughter.

Rob’s first novel, the two-time award-winning Beyond the Grate, was released in July 2023. It is a book inspired by true events as well. In 2010, Ben McDaniel, a scuba diver who had been diving at Vortex Spring just north of Ponce de Leon, Florida, was reported missing after it was noticed that his truck was there but Ben hadn’t been seen in two days. Rob was one of the divers that was called out to go into the cave and look for Ben’s body. His body was never found. Rob created a story inspired by this event, which provides one possible explanation for the disappearance of Ben McDaniel. The thriller includes many real locations and history into the story to give it depth and reality. Beyond the Grate has won 2 awards – the Global Book Awards Silver Award in Suspense Thrillers and was an Awards Finalist in the American Fiction Awards in Thrillers.

Rob published a sequel to Beyond the Grate titled Into the Darkness Beyond. This is a story also inspired by true events. Around 2012, there were several cave diving rescues that occurred in the caves of Merritt’s Mill Pond by the same cave diver. In the spirit of John Grisham, Rob asked himself what if these weren’t really rescues. What if the diver just happened to be in the right place at the right time and claimed he rescued these divers. And so a story was born. Into the Darkness Beyond is a thriller that takes place mostly in Marianna, Florida, along with some visits back to Eddy Spring from Beyond the Grate. Get ready for some true suspense.

Rob’s next book, Beyond Hope, takes Joey Simmons and Lindsey Carter, along with Gary, one of the characters from Into the Darkness Beyond, to the caves of Cozumel. Rob has been going to Cozumel to explore the underground rivers located beneath the jungle since 2011. He has discovered more than 20 miles of previously unexplored tunnels and mapped them. During a trip in 2023, Rob was on a dive with a friend and they got separated. Rob searched for his friend for more than an hour before having to exit the cave. Beyond Hope is Rob’s first thriller written from the first person point of view and explores the feelings and fears that a cave diver can get when unplanned separation occurs. Get ready for a true psychological thriller. Beyond Hope will be available in the summer of 2024.

Speaking of Rob’s exploration of the caves of Cozumel, after reading Patrick Taylor’s book Lost and Found, he decided readers might be interested in reading about his adventures in Cozumel. Rob has begun writing a new series titled Beneath the Jungle of Cozumel. The first book, Connecting the Crowns, will be released in the Fall of 2024. He currently has plans for at least two more books in the series, The Hidden Passage and Shooting Stars. There will probably be more as his exploration continues.

Finally, Rob also has plans for a standalone thriller to be released sometime at the end of 2024/beginning of 2025. The title for that novel is White Lines. That’s all that will be said on that for the time being.

Check back for updates!


Rob has been invited to be on a new podcast hosted by Steve Grobschmidt, author of the Gamma Trita series. That should be done an posted sometime in June 2024. Keep checking here for the link!

At the beginning of 2023, Rob spent about an hour discussing sidemount diving, his Sidemount Diving book, and even a little bit about his upcoming debut thriller Beyond the Grate with Benjamin Hadfield of Teach Me To Dive. Click on the link below to watch!

Teach Me To Dive Interview with Rob Neto


At the beginning of 2021, Rob spent about an hour discussing sidemount diving and his Sidemount Diving book with Steve Davis of Speaking Sidemount. Click on the link below to watch!

Speaking Sidemount Interview with Rob Neto


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