- The Best of Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Top Spots for WIldlife
- Costa Rica’s Most Beautiful Beaches
- Costa Rica’s Best Beaches for Wildlife
- Best Surfing Beaches in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Unique Retreats & Resorts
- Surf’s Up in Costa Rica
- Off-The-Beaten-Path Eco-Adventures
- Costa Rica Family-Friendly Adventures
- Adrenaline Rush
Koutnik, Jane. Costa Rica: A Quick Guide to Customs and Etiquette. Portland, OR: Graphic Arts Books, 2005. Concise yet detailed insight into the local culture.
Ras, Barbara, ed. Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion. San Francisco: Whereabouts Press, 1994. Twenty-six stories by Costa Rican writers that reflect the ethos of the country.
History, Politics, and Social Structure
Biesanz, Richard, et al. The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica. Boulder, CO: Lynne Reinner, 1999. This essential work for understanding Tico culture is an updated version of its popular forerunner, The Costa Ricans.
Booth, Thomas. Costa Rica: Quest for Democracy. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999. The story of the fight to establish and sustain democracy in Costa Rica.
Daling, Tjabel. Costa Rica in Focus: A Guide to the People, Politics, and Culture. Northampton, MA: Interlink, 2001. A general and insightful review of national culture.
Molina Jiménez, Ivan (ed.), and Steven Palmer (ed.). The Costa Rica Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004. Essential background reading and the most thoughtful and readable academic account of the nation.
Wallerstein, Claire. Culture Shock! Costa Rica. Portland, OR: Graphic Arts, 2003. Insights into what makes Ticos tick.
Living in Costa Rica
Howard, Christopher. The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica, 14th ed. San José: C.R. Books, 2005. A splendid comprehensive guide to making the break.
Van Rheenen, Erin. Moon Living Abroad in Costa Rica. Emeryville, CA: Avalon Travel Publishing, 2007. The definitive guide to living in Costa Rica also includes highly useful information for travelers passing through.
Nature and Wildlife
Allen, William. Green Phoenix: Restoring the Tropical Forests of Guanacaste. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. A wonderful read, this powerfully engaging book tells the story of the remarkable, and successful, efforts to resurrecting Costa Rica’s ravaged dry forests.
Beletsky, Les. The Ecotravellers’ Wildlife Guide to Costa Rica. San Diego: Academia Press, 2002. A superbly illustrated volume for nature lovers.
Boza, Mario, and A. Bonilla. The National Parks of Costa Rica. Madrid: INCAFO, 1999. Available in both hardbound coffee-table and less-bulky softbound versions, as well as in a handy pocket-size edition. Lots of superb photos. Highly readable, too.
Carr, Archie F. The Windward Road. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1955. A sympathetic book about the sea turtles of Central America.
DeVries, Philip J. The Butterflies of Costa Rica and Their Natural History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987. A well-illustrated and thorough lepidopterist’s guide.
Emmons, Louise H. Neotropical Rainforest Mammals—A Field Guide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. A thorough yet compact book detailing mammal species throughout the neotropics.
Fogden, Michael and Patricia. Hummingbirds of Costa Rica. Richmond Hill, Canada: Firefly Books, 2006. Lavishly illustrated coffee-table book.
Fogden, Michael and Susan. Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Sanibel Island, FL: Ralph Curtis Publishing, 2005. Superbly illustrated pocket-sized guide.
Garigues, Richard and Robert Dean. The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007. A splendidly illustrated guide written by one of Costa Rica’s foremost ornithologists.
Henderson, Carrol L. Field Guide to the Wildlife of Costa Rica. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002. This weighty tome provides a thorough layman’s treatment of individual wildlife species, but it’s a bit too bulky for the road. Most species are shown in color photographs.
Herrera, Wilberth. Costa Rica Nature Atlas-Guidebook. San José: Editorial Incafo, 1992. A very useful and readable guide to parks, reserves, and other areas of interest. Text is supported by stunning photos and detailed maps showing roads and gas stations.
INBio. Colección Guías de Campo de Costa Rica. San José: Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio). This series of beautifully illustrated pocket-size nature guides offers 10 titles, including Mammals of Costa Rica, Birds of Costa Rica, and Snakes of Costa Rica. plus separate titles on arboreal ferns; bees, wasps, and ants; beetles; bromeliads; flying insects; mushrooms and fungi; scorpions; and ornamental plants.
Janzen, Daniel, ed. Costa Rican Natural History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983. Weighty and large-format, it’s the bible for scientific insight into individual species of flora and fauna. With 174 contributors.
Perry, Donald. Life Above the Jungle Floor. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986. A fascinating account of life in the forest canopy, relating Perry’s scientific studies at Rara Avis.
Savage, Jay M. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. The most comprehensive treatment of amphibian and reptile ecology, with in-depth information on 396 species.
Stiles, F. Gary, and Alexander Skutch. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989. A superbly illustrated compendium for serious bird-watchers.
Wainwright, Mark. The Natural History of Costa Rica: Mammals. San José: Zona Tropical, 2003. A splendid companion for naturalists, with identifying charts and lots of esoteric information.
Wallace, David R. The Quetzal and the Macaw: The Story of Costa Rica’s National Parks. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1992. An entertaining history of the formation of Costa Rica’s national park system.
Zuckowski, Willow. A Guide to Tropical Plants of Costa Rica. San José: Zona Tropical, 2006. Beautifully illustrated field guide.
Zuckowski, Willow, and Turid Forsyth. Tropical Plants of Costa Rica: A Guide to Native and Exotic Flora. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007. More than 500 photographs.
Aritio, Luis Blas, ed. Costa Rica National Parks Guide. San José: INCAFO, 2003. This compact and lavishly illustrated pocket guide provides succinct and detailed information on the national parks.
Eudy, Lee. Chasing Jaguars: The Complete Guide to Costa Rican Whitewater. Chapel Hill, NC: Earthbound Sports, 2003. This is a comprehensive profile on 40 of the country’s best whitewater runs, with maps.
Mead, Rowland. Travel Atlas: Costa Rica. London: New Holland Publishers, 2007. Illustrated with color photographs, with 86 maps to the country.
Pariser, Mike. The Surfer’s Guide to Costa Rica. San José: Surf Press, 2005. Well-rounded guidebook for the wave- seeking set.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition