by Christopher Baker

Home : Travel : Costa Rica : CR Handbook : Booklist


Hall, Carolyn. Costa Rica: A Geographical Interpretation in Historical Perspective. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1985.

Jones, Julie. Between Continents, Between Seas: Pre-Columbian Art of Costa Rica. Detroit: Detroit Institute of the Arts, 1981.

Mayfield, Michael W., and Rafael E. Gallo. The Rivers of Costa Rica: A Canoeing, Kayaking, and Rafting Guide. Birmingham, AL: Menasha Ridge Press, 1988.

Moser, Don, ed. Central American Jungles. Amsterdam: Time-Life Books, 1975.

Trejos, Alonso, ed. Illustrated Geography of Costa Rica. San José: Trejos Editores, 1991. Coffee-table format. Lots of colorful photography belies matter-of-fact text covering everything from government structure and social aspects to industrial production.

Costa Rica at a Glance. San José: Market Date, 1990. Handy mini-compendium of stastical data.


Boza, Mario, and A. Bonilla. The National Parks of Costa Rica. Madrid: INCAFO, 1981. Available as both a coffee-table hardback and a less bulky softback. 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.

Caulfield, Catherine. In the Rainforest. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.

Cornelius, Stephen E. The Sea Turtles of Santa Rosa National Park. San José: Fundación de Parques Nacional, 1986.

DeVries, Philip J. The Butterflies of Costa Rica and their Natural History. 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, 1990. A thorough yet compact book detailing mammal species throughout the neotropics.

Forsyth, Adrian, and Ken Miyata. Journey Through A Tropical Jungle. Toronto: Greey de Pencier Books, 1988. An educational children's book that provides a lighthearted introduction to rainforest ecology.

Forsyth, Adrian, and Ken Miyata. Tropical Nature. New York: Scribner's & Sons, 1984. A readable, lighthearted insight into tropical ecosystems.

Herrera, Wilberth. Costa Rica Nature Atlas-Guidebook. San José: Editorial Incafo, 1992. A very useful and readable guide to parks, reserves, and other sites of interest. Text is backed by stunning photos and detailed maps showing roads and gas stations.

Janzen, Daniel, ed. Costa Rican Natural History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983. The bible for a scientific insight into individual species of flora and fauna. Weighty, large format. 174 contributors.

Kricher, John C. A Neotropical Companion: An Introduction to the Animals, Plants, and Ecosystems of the New World Tropics. Princeton University Press, 1989.

Lellinger, David B. Fern and Fern-Allies of Costa Rica, Panamá, and the Choco. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. A scientific tome for botanists and fernophiles.

Mitchell, Andrew W. The Enchanted Canopy. New York: Macmillan, 1986.

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.

Skutch, Alexander. A Naturalist in Costa Rica. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1971.

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 birders.

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.

Young, Allan. Field Guide to the Natural History of Costa Rica. San José: Trejos Hermanos, 1983.


Ameringer, Charles D. Democracy in Costa Rica. New York: Praeger, 1982.

Ameringer, Charles D. Don Pepe: A Political Biography of José Figueres of Costa Rica. Mexico City: University of New Mexico Press, 1978.

Barry, Tom. Costa Rica: A Country Guide. Albuquerque, NM: The Inter-Hemisphere Resource Center, 1989.

Bell, John P. Crisis in Costa Rica: The 1948 Revolution. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971.

Biesanz, Richard, et al. The Costa Ricans. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1987 (updated).

Edelman, Marc, and Joanne Kenen, eds. The Costa Rican Reader. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1988. An excellent compendium of extracts on politics, history, economics, the contras, etc.

Palmer, Pauline. What Happen: A Folk History of Costa Rica's Talamanca Coast. San José: Ecodesarollos, 1977.


Baker, Bill. Essential Road Guide for Costa Rica. San José, 1992. A handy reference for self-drive exploring, especially strong on San José. The regional route charts are difficult to follow unless you have a navigator along.

Beresky, Andrew, ed. Fodor's Central America. New York: Fodor's, 1991. Relatively cursory treatment.

Blake, Beatrice, and Anne Becher. The New Key to Costa Rica, 10th ed. San José: Publications in English, 1991. Solid, well-structured travel guide, though information is often hidden away. Certain regions get cursory treatment. Updated annually. Widely available in Costa Rica. Few maps.

Box, Ben, ed. Mexico and Central American Handbook. New York: Prentice Hall, 1991. A bulky yet concise bible for those traveling throughout the isthmus. Written for British travelers. Amazing volume of information, if not always easy to find.

Bradt, Hilary, et al. Backpacking in Mexico and Central America, 3rd ed. Boston: Bradt Publications, 1992.

Castner, James L. Rainforests--A Guide to Research and Tourist Facilities at Selected Tropical Forest Sites in Central and South America. Gainesville: Fekine Press, 1990. Information on 39 sites throughout Central America for travelers intent on visiting rainforest preserves.

Drive the Pan-American Highway. Miami: Interlink, 1991. A do-it-yourself guidebook offering practical advice and tips on paperwork, routes, etc. for those driving to Costa Rica.

Franke, Josephs. Costa Rica's National Parks and Preserves: A Visitor's Guide. Seattle: The Mountaineers, 1993. Excellent guide specifically for those heading into protected zones. Detailed maps and trail routes of most parks and reserves, plus bare-bones information on preparing for your trip. No hotel or restaurant reviews.

Glassman, Paul. Costa Rica. Champlain, NY: Passport Press, 1991. A general guide, much improved over previous editions. Well organized. Sound information, though not as comprehensive as desirable. No photos.

Haber, Harvey. Insight Guide to Costa Rica. Hong Kong: APA Publications, 1992. Stunningly colorful photography and maps. A pleasurable read with in-depth coverage of the history, geography, and social aspects of Costa Rica. Armchair reading to accompany a more practical "how-to" guide.

Hatchwell, Emily, and Simon Calder. Travellers Central America Survival Kit. England: Vacation Work, 1991. A budget traveler's guide written in a literary vein.

Instituto Costarricense de Turismo. Real Guide of Costa Rica. San José, 1992. A few useful maps and listings. Otherwise, forget it!

Keller, Nancy, Tom Brosnahan, and Rob Rachowiecki. Central America on a Shoestring. Berkeley: Lonely Planet, 1992. A good resource for budget travelers exploring the isthmus. Lots of practical advice and maps.

Lougheed, Vivien. Central America by Chickenbus: A Travel Guide. Quesnel, B.C., Canada: Repository Press, 1988. For those roughing it overland.

Meza Ocampo, Tobia, and Rodolfo Mesa Peralta. Discover Costa Rica: A Historical Cultural Guide. San José: Universal, 1992. Homegrown perspectives on history, politics, etc. Pocket-size. Unfortunately, also pocket-size on practical advice.

Norton, Natascha, and Mark Whatmore. Central America. London, England: Cadogan Guides, 1993. Handy for those planning to explore the isthmus. Lacks regional details and the jolly literary style of other Cadogan guides.

Pariser, Harry S. The Adventure Guide to Costa Rica. Edison, NJ: Hunter Publishing, 1992. Good coverage on history, the economy, politics, etc. Weak on practical regional information.

Price, Carolyn, ed. Fodor's Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala. New York: Fodor's Travel Publications, 1993. Well-organized and concise guidebook. A boon to the traveler wanting easy reference, though treatment is lightweight. Minimal hotel and restaurant reviews and off-the-beaten-track information.

Rachowiecki, Rob. Costa Rica--A Travel Survival Kit. Berkeley: Lonely Planet, 1991. Comprehensive and well-structured coverage of what to see, where to stay, and how to get there. For the budget traveler. Detailed maps. Weak on certain geographic areas (e.g., Escazú not included).

Red Guide to Costa Rica: National Map Guide. San José: Guias de Costa Rica, 1991. City maps and regional maps in one book; recommended for self-drive exploration.

Samson, Karl. Frommer's Costa Rica, Gua-temala & Belize on $35 a Day. New York: Frommer Books, 1993. Concise and well-structured guide to the major destinations. Selective; not good for off-the-beaten-track travel. Good for the grand tour of Central America.

Searby, Ellen. The Costa Rica Traveler, 3rd ed. Occidental, CA: Windham Bay Press, 1991. Handy hotel charts, black-and-white photos, but many geographic areas not covered.

Sheck, Ree S. Costa Rica: A Natural Destination, 2nd ed. Santa Fe, NM: John Muir Publications, 1992. Good guide to the national parks and reserves, but lightweight treatment for the rest of the country or as a practical travel guide. Few maps.

Tico Times Visitor's Guide. San José: Tico Times, 1993. Excellent little compendium of information. A no-nonsense directory.


Howells, John. Choose Costa Rica: A Guide to Wintering or Retirement. Gateway Books, 1992. Well-written book which answers most questions asked by those thinking of settling in Costa Rica.

Lambert, James. The Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica. San José: C.R. Books, 1994.

United States Mission Association. Living in Costa Rica. San José, 1989. Comprehensive listings of services not covered by other books. Aimed at those already settled in Costa Rica.


Costa Rica Adventures. (Away From It All Press, P.O. Box 5573, Chula Vista, CA 91912-5573; tel. 800-365-2342.) Features 15 thrilling adventures, from hikes and horseback rides to bungee jumping and sportfishing. (55 minutes; $25.50 including shipping.)

Costa Rica: The Land and Its People; Costa Rica: Sun, Beaches, Rivers, and Fishing; Costa Rica: The National Parks. (Producciones La Mestiza, Apdo. 3011, San José 1000; tel. 285-1182, fax 222-0446; 25 minutes.)

Costa Rica: Making the Most of Your Trip. (Marshall Productions, P.O. Box 534, Carlsbad, NM 88221; 90 minutes; $35 including shipping.)

Costa Rica Video. (Megaview Productions, 255 N. El Cieto, Suite 155, Palm Springs, CA 92262; 34 minutes; $25 including shipping.)

Costa Rica Today. (Cota International, P.O. Box 5042, New York, NY 10185.) Includes information for potential residents. Widely available at hotels. (60 minutes; $30.)

The Video for Costa Rica. (The Young and New Tone of Costa Rica, Apdo. 6709, San José 1000; 60 minutes; $30.)

This is Costa Rica. (Swiss Travel Service, Apdo. 7-1970, San José 1000; 35 minutes; $25.)


Adventures In Costa Rica. Monthly newsletter with "no punches pulled" and "no axes to grind." (Starflame Publications, P.O. Box 508, Jackson, CA 95642; $36.95 annual subscription.)

The Tico Times. Superb weekly newspaper covering all aspects of Costa Rican life. Includes comprehensive listings of events. (P.O. Box 145450, Coral Gables, FL 33114; $40 annual subscription.)

Costa Rica Report. Covers topics of interest to travelers and residents. (Apdo. 6283, San José; $42 annual subscription.)

Costa Rican Outlook. An upbeat newsletter with insightul background stories and handy tidbits for travelers. Highly recommended. Subscribers receive a Indentification Card for discounts for restaurants, etc., in Costa Rica. (Away From It All Press, P.O. Box 5573, Chula Vista, CA 91912; tel./fax 619-421-6002 or 800-365-2342; $19 annual subscription with money-back guarantee.)

Costa Rica Today. Excellent full-color newspaper geared to the foreign traveler. Widely available in hotels, etc. (P.O. Box 0025216, Miami, FL 35102; $59.95 annual subscription.)


Americans Abroad is a newly updated U.S. government booklet which discusses many aspects of international travel, from visa and passport requirements to health and safety concerns. Ask for booklet 599W. (Consumer Information Center, P.O. Box 100, Pueblo, CO 81002.)