Books for Costa Rica

Current guidebook reviews are available on this link

 

All Books Alphabetical by Title
A

Adventures in Nature: Costa RicaAdventures in Nature: Costa Rica
by Ree Strange Sheck, Paperback, 320 pages, Publisher: Avalon Travel Publishing; 2nd edition (February 2001), ISBN: 1566912423

A guidebook to Costa Rica built from a Natural History and Conservation perspective. Rather than comprehensive listings of hotels, restaurants, and attractions this guide focuses on presenting the best of the environmentally conscious options. Excels in two areas- parks & wildlife- that many travelers are most interested in.
four and a half toucan out of five from Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa RicaThe Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica: A Herpetofauna Between Two Continents, Between Two Seas
by Jay Mathers Savage, Michael Fogden (Photographer), Patricia Fogden (Photographer), Hardcover, 934 pages, Publisher: University of Chicago Press, (August 2002), ISBN: 0226735370

rated 5 toucans by Costa-Rica-guide.com

 

Assault on Paradise: A NovelAssault on Paradise: A Novel
by Tatiana Lobo, Asa Zatz (Translator), $US 15.95, Paperback, 320 pages, Publisher: Curbstone Press, (November 1998), ISBN: 1880684462

four and a half toucan out of five from Costa-Rica-Guide.com

 

 

B

A Bicycle Journey to the Bottom of the AmericasA Bicycle Journey to the Bottom of the Americas : Being a True Account of a Bike Adventure from Alaska
by George Hawkins, Paperback, 424 pages, Publisher: Writer’s Showcase Press, (October 2000), ISBN: 0595132383

If you’re going to do it, why not go all the way. This ride has been a dream of ours for years and someday we’ll follow in George’s tracks.
four and a half toucans out of five from Costa-Rica-Guide.com

 

The Butterflies of Costa Rica and Their Natural History, Vol. I: Papilionidae, Pieridae, NymphalidaeButterflies of Costa Rica and Their Natural History, :The Papilionidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae volume I
by Philip J. Devries, Paperback: 327 pages, Publisher: Princeton Univ. Pr, (1987), ISBN: 0691024030

This two volumes in this set are beautiful science books, not coffee table books. The color plates (50 plates with ~20 species each, including the Morphos) and species accounts are more plentiful in Volume I, while the general information is concentrated in Volume II. If you are a butterfly fanatic this book should be on your shelf (probably not in your backpack, the set is much too bulky to treat as a field guide).
rated 5 toucans by Costa-Rica-guide.com
Butterflies of Costa Rica and Their Natural History, :The Riodinidae Vol IIButterflies of Costa Rica and Their Natural History, :The Riodinidae Vol II
by Philip J. Devries, Paperback, 288 pages, Publisher: Princeton Univ. Pr, (1997), ISBN: 0691028893

The second volume includes color plates (25 plates with 25 butterflies per plate, and many excellent black and white drawings) and species accounts as well as amazing descriptions by DeVries of the habits of the ant feeding caterpillars There are and very complete general descriptions of habits, habitats, and migrations.
rated 5 toucans by Costa-Rica-guide.com

 

 

C

The Cattleyas and Their Relatives: Brassavola, Encyclia, and Other Genera of Mexico and Central AmericaThe Cattleyas and Their Relatives: Brassavola, Encyclia, and Other Genera of Mexico and Central America
by Carl L. Withner, Hardcover, 242 pages, Publisher: Timber Press, (1998), ISBN: 0881924563

not yet reviewed
This is not a coffee table book full of color pictures. It is a study of the history, cultivation, breeding and ecology.

Caves : Exploring Hidden RealmsCaves : Exploring Hidden Realms
by Michael Ray Taylor (Author), Ronal C. Kerbo, Hardcover, 224 pages, Publisher: National Geographic, (March 2001), ISBN: 0792279042

 

 

Chasing Jagaurs: The Complete Guide to Costa Rican Whitewater
by Lee Eudy, 314 pages, Paperback, Publisher; Earthbound Sports Inc. (December 2003), ISBN: 0964369877

River by river information as well as general tips.

The Cloud Forest: A Chronicle of the South American Wilderness

The Cloud Forest: A Chronicle of the South American Wilderness
by Peter Matthiessen, Paperback, 320 pages, Publisher: Penguin USA, (1996), ISBN: 0140255079

An early explornography true story. Originally appeared as a serial in the New Yorker magazine. Mattheissen travels by cargo ship from NY up the Amazon to Peru, by air to the Pacific coast, then by foot and balsa raft to find a lost city (doesn’t turn up) and a dinosaur jaw bone (finds it). Not set in Costa Rica, but gives a feel for the cloud forest.
rated 3.5 toucans by Costa-Rica-guide.com
 

Costa Rica: The Last Country The Gods Made
by Adrian Colesberry, Brass McLean, Kimberly Parsons (Photographer), Hardcover, 152 pages, Publisher: Falcon, (October 1993), ISBN: 1560442514

four and a half toucans out of five from Costa-Rica-Guide.com
Out of print but worth looking for used at Amazon

Costa Rica: Traveler’s Wildlife Guides
by Les Beletsky, John Myers (Illustrator), Priscilla Barrett (Illustrator), Paperback, 440 pages, Publisher: Interlink Pub Group, (2003), ISBN: 1566565294

The Traveler’s Wildlife Guide to Costa Rica is a wonderful book that fully deserves its endorsement by the Wildlife Conservation Society. Beletsky’s understanding and extensive experience of tropical ecology result in a clear, interesting, and useable guide. This tiny country has more diverse habitats and wildlife than almost any other place in the world, which makes the Guide’s accessible descriptions of them and their interactions all the more impressive.
rated four and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

Costa Rica Handbook

Costa Rica Handbook
by Christopher P. Baker, Paperback: 772 pages, Publisher: Avalon Travel Publishing, 4th edition, (October 2004), ISBN: 1566916089

Baker has posted the introductory chapters and National Parks guide sections of the Moon Handbook on the web.
The most complete, and one of the three overall best Costa Rica guidebooks (see head-to-head comparisons). Not as colorful as some of the other guides, but more complete, for both lodging, dining and activity listings and historical, ecological, and practical information. Superbly written and illustrated (although nearly entirely in B&W the line drawings, photographs, and maps are excellent). Highly Recommended
rated five out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

Costa Rica HandbookCosta Rica Handbook
by Peter Hutchison, Paperback: 416 pages, Publisher, Footprint, (December 10, 2001), ISBN: 1903471060

The easiest guidebook to carry and use, and one of the three overall best for Costa Rica travel (see head-to-head comparisons). The small notes printed in the margins of this book are great, and compliment excellent overall organization and presentation. Highly Recommended
rated five out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

Costa Rica: A travel survival kit, Lonely Planet

Costa Rica: A travel survival kit, Lonely Planet
by Rob Rachowiecki, Paperback, 576 pages, Publisher: Lonely Planet, 5th edition, (October 2002), ISBN: 1740591186

The most popular, and one of the three overall best guidebooks (see head-to-head comparisons) to Costa Rica. The included mini field guide to Costa Rican wildlife with color photographs and illustrations is a great bonus. If you want to buy and carry only one book while traveling in Costa Rica, this is your best choice. The descriptions of lodgings, eateries, and tours are comprehensive, informative and evenhanded. Lonely Planet maintains the most active Costa Rica Forum/Bulletin Board on the web. Highly Recommended
rated five out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

 

Costa Rica: A Traveler's Literary CompanionCosta Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion
by Barbara Ras (Editor), Oscar Arias (Editor), Paperback, 256 pages, Publisher: Consortium Book Sales & Dist, (1994), ISBN: 1883513006

A wonderful collection of short stories in English. If you want to get a picture of the daily life of Ticos, this book will give it to you and entertain as well.
rated five out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

Costa Rican Natural HistoryCosta Rican Natural History
by Daniel H. Janzen (Editor), $US 33.48, Paperback, 816 pages, Publisher: University of Chicago Press, (November 1983), ISBN: 0226393348

The bible of Costa Rican plants, animals and insects. This is the one book you will find on the shelves of every research station, park, and preserve. Highly Recommended
rated five out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

Costa Rica : Mapa-Guía de la Naturaleza/Nature Atlas and GuidebookCosta Rica : Mapa-Guía de la Naturaleza/Nature Atlas and Guidebook
by Wilberth Herrera, Paperback, 215 pages, Publisher: Incafo, S.A., (1992), ISBN: 8485389921

Excellent! Beautifully functional book including color photographs, bilingual Spanish/English captions and text for each of the National parks, reserves and biological stations sandwiched between a complete set of multicolor topographic maps (1:200,000). The bilingual text is excellent for Spanish practice, the locals love to see and read this book, and you can pick up local names for flora and fauna. The maps cover the entire country and although somewhat out of date there are none better available. They are improved (a few slight corrections and the addition of park and reserve boundaries and biological stations) reproductions of the maps available from the ministry of Geography. Although the maps are somewhat out of date (We found a ghost town where we had expected to reprovision on one trip), this is only a problem for some local roads and small towns; mostly in out of the way places. This is the best bet going for a set of detailed portable maps, and the photos and descriptions are excellent. Highly recommended.
rated five out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
We purchased our copy for approximately $US 30.00 at department store in San José in 1993, but it has been only sporadically available for several years. Sometimes it shows up on Amazon used for around $US 50.00, and we think it would be well worth the price.

 

Costa Rican WildlifeCosta Rican Wildlife
by Waterford Press, $US 5.95, Laminated Foldout, 12 pages, Publisher: Waterford Press, (2001), ISBN: 1583550739

Convenient laminated folding pocket guide packs a lot of information into a little space. Designed as an introduction and quick reference there are full color illustrations and a wealth of general information.
rated four out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

 

Costa Rica's National Parks and PreservesCosta Rica’s National Parks and Preserves: A Visitor’s Guide
by Joseph Franke, Paperback: 224 pages, Publisher: Mountaineers Books, 2nd edition, (1999), ISBN: 0898865603

Descriptions of the National Parks and other natural areas with many black and white, and 6 pages of color pictures. Also includes standard, and alternative transportation and lodging. For many areas, the Moon and Lonely Planet guidebooks are just as informative, but this is a nice format.
rated three and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

 

D

Diving & Snorkeling Guide to Cocos IslandDiving & Snorkeling Guide to Cocos Island
by Lucy Agace, Paperback: 66 pages, Publisher: Pisces Books, (April 1997), ASIN: 1559920920

not yet reviewed
out of print, but sometimes available from Amazon

 

E

Encyclopedia of Marine MammalsEncyclopedia of Marine Mammals
by William Perrin, Bernd Wursig, and J. Thewissen, Hardcover, 1414 pages, Publisher: Academic Press, (January 2002), ISBN: 0125513402

Description adapted from the publisher. A benchmark achievement including complete species list (living and extinct), comprehensive glossary with definitions for more than 1,000 specialized terms, photographs, line drawings, maps, tables, and figures.
 

Encyclopedia of VolcanoesEncyclopedia of Volcanoes
by Haraldur Sigurdsson, Bruce Houghton, Hazel Rymer, John Stix, and Steve McNutt, Hardcover, 1456 pages, Publisher: Academic Press, (October 1999), ISBN: 012643140X

not yet reviewed
Complete coverage of every aspect of volcanoes in a beautiful and accessible form.
 

Explore Costa RicaExplore Costa Rica
by Harry S. Pariser, Paperback, 528 pages, Publisher, Manatee Press, (September 2000), ISBN: 1893643506

The price of the guidebook includes a password for a mediocre members only web site with information on travel in Costa Rica. This guide is somewhat out of date and has been compared to a shopping list.
rated three out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

F

A Field Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Adjacent AreasA Field Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Adjacent Areas : Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador
by Ernest Preston Edwards (Author), Edward Murrell Butler (Illustrator), $US 16.07, Paperback, 285 pages, Publisher: Univ. of Texas Press, 3rd edition, (1998), ISBN: 0292720912

The author claims this is the most “user friendly” bird guide. It incorporates the 1998 check-list of the American Ornithologists Union, and has over 900 illustrations.
rated three and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America & Southeast MexicoA Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America & Southeast Mexico
by Fiona A. Reid, Paperback: 456 pages, Publisher: Oxford University Press, (1998), ISBN: 0195064011

Standard format field guide with 49 high quality color plates and ~8 mammals per plate. Detailed and accurate, but it’s mammals only.. lots of rats and bats as well as the monkeys, felines, and marine mammals.
rated four out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

 

 

Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and PanamaField Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama
by Robert L. Dressler, Paperback, 374 pages, Publisher: Cornell Univ. Press, (1993), ISBN: 0801481392

A relatively technical book, but it includes an extensive section on how to use the guide. There are 40 color plates with 6 excellent photos each. general orchid structure and ecology is complimented by a section on the specifics of Costa Rican an Panamanian plants, and an excellent glossary. A general key is used to to get to the right chapter then 300 pages of specific keys including good black and white line drawings are used for specific identifications.
four and a half toucan out of five from Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

Field Guide to the Palms of the AmericasField Guide to the Palms of the Americas
by Andrew Henderson, Gloria Galeano, Rodrigo Bernal, Paperback, 363 pages, Publisher: Princeton Univ. Press, (1997), ISBN: 0691016003

Beautiful color plates complimented by species accounts and ecology.
four and a half toucan out of five from Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

Field Guide to the Wildlife of Costa RicaField Guide to the Wildlife of Costa Rica
by Carrol L. Henderson (Author), Steve Adams (Illustrator), Paperback, 559 pages, Publisher: Univ. of Texas Press; 1st edition, (2002), ISBN: 029273459X

Color photos, species accounts, and distribution maps, for almost three hundred species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, moths, and other invertebrates are complimented by general introductions to each group, the ecology of Costa Rica, and how to travel to see wildlife.
rated five out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

Fodor's Exploring Costa RicaFodor’s Exploring Costa Rica
by Fodor’s, Paperback, 208 pages, Publisher: Fodor’s, 3rd edition, (October 2, 2001), ISBN: 067690162X

The author is either an incredibly negative person or had a terrible time while visiting Costa Rica. We would claim the latter is nearly impossible. The only redeeming feature about this guide is the pictures.
Not recommended.
In general if we can’t recommend a book,we just don’t include it, but in this case we felt it would be a service to warn people. Many good guidebooks are available.

 

G

Green Phoenix: Restoring the Tropical Forests of Guanacaste, Costa RicaGreen Phoenix: Restoring the Tropical Forests of Guanacaste, Costa Rica
by William Allen, Samantha Burton (Illustrator), Paperback, 310 pages, Publisher: Oxford University Press, (April 2003), ISBN: 0195161777

Sort of a Biography of Daniel Janzen interwoven with a description of trying to recreate one of the most endangered habitats in the world. A compelling story of one of the most successful ecological comebacks ever.

 

The Gringo's HawkThe Gringo’s Hawk
by Jon Maranon, Hardcover, 320 pages, Publisher: Kenneth Group Publishing, (October 2001), ISBN: 0967778700

 

A Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa RicaA Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica
by Twan Leenders, $US 24.95, Paperback, 305 pages, Publisher: Distribuidores Zona Tropical, S.A., (2001), ISBN: 0970567804

The guide to Costa RIca’s amphibians, herpatofauna, and reptiles with 86 color pages and 100 black-and-white plates, a complete species list, exhaustive bibliography, and an especially helpful illustrated glossary.
rated four and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
Out of print, but worth looking for used at Amazon

A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica

A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica
by F. Gary Stiles, Alexander F. Skutch (Contributor), Dana Gardner (Illustrator), Paperback, Publisher: Cornell Univ. Pr, (1990), ISBN: 0801496004

Birders the world over agree it’s a classic in its field. An excellent guide to one of the most diverse bird populations anywhere with 52 beautiful color plates, detailed species accounts, descriptions of birding localities. If you’re already hooked on birding you know from your friends that this is the book you need for the avifauna of Costa Rica, and if you’re a novice, this is a perfect place to start.
rated 5 toucans by Costa-Rica-guide.com
 

A Guide to the Birds of Panama: With Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and HondurasA Guide to the Birds of Panama: With Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras
by Robert S. Ridgely, John A. Gwynne (Contributor), $US 33.25, Paperback, 412 pages, Publisher: Princeton Univ. Pr; 2nd edition, (1992), ISBN: 0691025126

Some tout this volume as superior to A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica by Stiles, Skutch & Gardener. Over 1,000 species, more than 800 illustrated on 48 color plates. While the neotropical birds you are likely to spot in Costa Rica will be in this book, the site specific information is weighted towards Panama. Follows the sequence and taxonomy of the 1983 check-list of the American Ornithologists Union.
rated four and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

 

 

H

The High Frontier: Exploring the Tropical Rainforest CanopyThe High Frontier: Exploring the Tropical Rainforest Canopy
by Mark W. Moffett, Edward Osborne Wilson, Paperback, 192 pages, Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press, (1994), ASIN: 0674390393

This book is out of print, but widely available at very reasonable prices in fine condition. It is well worth hunting for. It is one of the best examples of an interesting, beautiful yet scientifically accurate and compelling books available. If you are considering a canopy tour while traveling in Costa Rica, buy this book.
rated five out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
Out of print, but generally available used from Amazon -or-
Barnes&Noble

How Monkeys Make ChocolateHow Monkeys Make Chocolate: Foods and Medicines from the Rainforests
by Adrian Forsyth, Paperback, 48 pages, Publisher, Owl Communications, (September 1995), ISBN: 1895688329

Children’s

 

Humming birds of Costa RicaHummingbirds of Costa Rica
by Patricia and Michael Fogden, Hardcover, Publisher: Firefly Books Ltd (February 4, 2005), ISBN: 1554071631

The best two photographers in Costa Rica (Patricia and Michael Fogden) did the pictures in this beautiful guide.
rated four and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

Humphrey the Lost WhaleHumphrey the Lost Whale
by Wendy Tokuda, Hanako Wakiyama (Illustrator), Richard B. Hall, Paperback, 32 pages, Publisher: Scott Foresman, (December 1992), ISBN: 0893463469

The captivating true story of saving a humpback whale beached in San Francisco Bay. Beautifully illustrated in watercolor, for kids 4-8.

 

 

I

 

In the Rainforest: Report from a Strange, Beautiful, Imperiled WorldIn the Rainforest: Report from a Strange, Beautiful, Imperiled World
by Catherine Caufield, Paperback, 310 pages, Publisher: University of Chicago Press, (May 1986), ISBN: 0226097862

Extended essay on rainforest ecology, sustainable harvest, etc. This is a favorite reference for the Rainforest Action Network, and one of the first books to recognize the loss of diversity and the human cost of the loss of the rainforest. Has many specific, statistical and anecdotal examples of the cost of destruction (mostly specific to the Amazon and SE Asia). Not the smoothest read or best organized book but it’s a great baseline for the successes and failures of the conservation movement. For example Collins’ The last rain forests discussion of pneumatic chainsaw underwater logging in the lake formed by the dam on the Tucuri river. Caufield foresees this at a time when the dam less than half complete. This book is a gold mine of quotes and statistics, if a little out of date.
rated three and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

 

An Introduction to Tropical Rain ForestsAn Introduction to Tropical Rain Forests
by Timothy Whitmore, Paperback, 296 pages, Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2nd edition (May 1998) ISBN: 0198501471

Lots (50+) of nice black and white diagrams and drawings and diagrams, and lots of (50+) mediocre black and white photographs. Don’t let the “Introduction” in the title fool you, the descriptions and discussions are clear but technical and demanding. This is an introduction for graduate level studies of rainforest ecology or for the very serious naturalist. For example “The basis for the fast growth of pioneer trees is their high unit leaf rate, E, the rate of dry weight created by photosynthesis per unit leaf area.” The book is very Malay-centric which is not uprising since the author has written half a dozen books about Malaysia.

 

 

 

J, K, L

LA Selva: Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Rain ForestLA Selva: Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Rain Forest
by Lucinda A. McDade, Kamaljit S. Bawa (Editor), Henry A. Hespenheide (Editor), Publisher: University of Chicago Press, (1994), ISBN: 0226039528

Over thirty years of intensive study of the rainforest ecology, flora, and fauna surrounding the tropical research station at La Selva is summarized and comprehensively reviewed in yet another remarkable book by the University of Chicago Press. An indispensable resource for tropical biologists, ecologists, and naturalist.
rated 4.5 toucans by Costa-Rica-guide.com
 

Latin America by Bike: A Complete Touring GuideLatin America by Bike: A Complete Touring Guide
by Walter Sienko, Paperback, 256 pages, Publisher: Mountaineers Books, (1993), ISBN: 0898863651

rated four out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

 

The Last Rain Forests : A World Conservation Atlas;
Mark Collins (Editor), David Attenborough, Hardcover, 200 pages. Publisher: Oxford University Press, (November 1990) ISBN: 0195208366

I can’t decide whether this is a coffee table book disguised as a textbook or the reverse. The photography is excellent, but doesn’t quite stand up to that in “The rainforests: a celebration.” Excellent visual impact from maps that show the 1990 and past extent of the rainforests. Forward by David Attenborough “You develop an eye for detail and start to spot the unusual. Then the astonishments begin. The broad drooping leaf of a kind of wild banana in the Costa Rican forest is occasionally marked by a line of tiny holes on either side of its midrib. Lift it and beneath you find a line of pure white bundles of fur the size and shape of golf balls. They are nomadic bats that have built themselves a temporary encampment by biting through the side-veins of the leaf so that the two halves flop down and form a neat tent that shields them from the rain”
rated four out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
Out of print but often available used at for as little as $US 2.00 at Amazon (list price $US 45.00)

 

Let's Go 2003: Costa RicaLet’s Go 2003: Costa Rica
by Let’s Go (Author), Paperback, 432 pages, Publisher: Let’s Go Travel Pub.,(December 2002), ISBN: 0312305702

A compact guide that emphasizes budget accommodations, transportation, and dining. A good effort, it doesn’t make it into the top three.
Let’s Go publishes introductory chapters online.
rated three and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

M

Monkeys are made of ChocolateMonkeys are made of Chocolate
by Jack Ewing, George Wingfield (Editor) (2003) ISBN 9977126933

A collection of stories from the jungles of Southern Costa Rica includes 26 photographs and a collection of essays and tales from the life of Jack Ewing in the 30 years since he relocated from Colorado the Southern Pacific region of Costa Rica. The stories with titles like “Blood Eaters Gone Amok”, and “Who says You Can’t teach an Old Sloth New Tricks?” will educate, enlighten and delight you.

Order direct from the Publisher $12.00

Monteverde: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud ForestMonteverde: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest
by Nalini M. Nadkarni (Editor), Nathaniel T. Wheelwright (Editor), Publisher: Getty Ctr for Education in the Arts, (February 2000), ISBN: 0195133102

Presents detailed scientific accounts of the botany, zoology, entomology, and their ecological interactions for the archetypal high-altitude rain forests of Monteverde and Santa Elena. Also discusses the effects of the 40,000 yearly visitors on the ecology of the area, and the surrounding communities
rated 4 toucans by Costa-Rica-guide.com

 

 

The Most Beautiful Roof in the World: Exploring the Rainforest CanopyThe Most Beautiful Roof in the World: Exploring the Rainforest Canopy
by Kathryn Lasky, Paperback: 48 pages, Publisher: Gulliver Books Paperbacks, (April 1997), ISBN: 0152008977

Children’s

 

 

 

N

National Audubon Society Field Guide to Tropical Marine FishesNational Audubon Society Field Guide to Tropical Marine Fishes : Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Florida, Bahamas, Bermuda
by National Audubon Society, Flexible binding, 720 pages, Publisher: Knopf, (September 1997), ISBN: 067944601X

An excellent guide that isn’t specific to Costa Rica, but should cover anything you’ll encounter on the Caribbean and Cahuita National Park.
rated four and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

National Audubon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of the WorldNational Audubon Society Guide to Marine Mammals of the World
by Pieter Folkens (Illustrator), Randall R. Reeves (Contributor), Brent S. Stewart (Contributor), Paperback: 528 pages, Publisher: Knopf, (April 2002), ISBN: 0375411410

As usual the National Audubon Society has published a target for everyone else to reach for.
rated four and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

National Geographic's Costa RicaNational Geographic’s Costa Rica
by Christopher P. Baker, Paperback, 272 pages, Publisher: National Geographic, (March 2003), ISBN: 0792279468

If you are traveling as part of an organized tour you don’t want a four pound list of hotels and youth hostels as a guide book, this is a good alternative. Stuffed with photos and graphics, this guide focuses on getting to know Costa Rica. There is excellent health safety and practical information and some brief hotel listings that won’t let you down in an emergency.
rated four and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

The Natural History of Costa Rican MammalsThe Natural History of Costa Rican Mammals
by Mark Wainwright, Paperback, 384 pages, Publisher: Distribuidores Zona Tropical, S.A., (2003), ISBN: 0970567812

Over 400 illustration of the mammals, their tracks, scats, dens, and anatomical details combined with identification keys, range maps, vocalization descriptions, sexual behavior, derivations of common and scientific names, evolutionary history, local folklore and mythology give a complete picture for Costa Rica’s common and more elusive mammals. Excellent introductions to the natural history and conservation of this region make this much more than a source to identify what you just saw.
rated 4 toucans by Costa-Rica-guide.com

A Neotropical Companion

A Neotropical Companion
by William E. Davis (Illustrator), John C. Kricher, Mark J. Plotkin, Paperback, 504 pages, Publisher: Princeton Univ. Pr; 2nd Revision edition, (1999), ISBN: 0691009740

Readable and accessible for tourists, students and scientists, this introduction to the American tropics, their rainforests and other ecosystems, and the creatures that live there is the most comprehensive one-volume guide to the Neotropics available today. Excellent line drawings and a text based guide to birds. Highly recommended by Scientific American.
rated four and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

The New Key to Costa RicaThe New Key to Costa Rica
by Beatrice Blake, Anne Becher, Deidre Hyde (Illustrator), Nik Wheeler (Photographer), Paperback, 560 pages, Publisher: Ulysses Press, (2006) ISBN: 1569755612

This guidebook has a different feel to it than many of the others. It was the first guidebook; long before Lonely Planet and Frommers jumped on the bandwagon Beatrice was finding the best of Costa Rica. It is not just a list of places to go, stay and eat but also a guide to the communities, culture and ecology. If you aren’t finding what you want in other guides this is an excellent place to look.
rated four and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
O, P

Photographic guide to the Birds of Costa RicaPhotographic guide to the Birds of Costa Rica
by Susan C. L. Fogden, Paperback, Publisher: Ralph Curtis (December 30, 2005), ISBN: 0883590573

The best two photographers in Costa Rica (Patricia and Michael Fogden) did the pictures in this beautiful guide.
rated four and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

Poison Frogs of the Family Dendrobatidae: Jewels of the RainforestPoison Frogs of the Family Dendrobatidae: Jewels of the Rainforest
by Jerry G. Walls, Hardcover, Publisher: TFH Publications, (1994), ISBN: 0793802997

Oversized and packed with hundreds of detailed and beautiful high quality glossy images.
rated four and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

Pura Vida: Waterfalls Costa Rica: Waterfalls and Hot Springs of Costa RicaPura Vida: Waterfalls Costa Rica: Waterfalls and Hot Springs of Costa Rica
by Sam Mitchell, Paperback, 96 pages, Publisher: Menasha Ridge Press, (1995), ISBN: 0897321723

River hiking to a waterfall, then camping next to a natural hot spring pool… Sounds like paradise, and Sam Mitchell will tell you where and how.
rated four out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

 

 

Q

Quetzal and the Macaw: The Story of Costa Rica's National ParksQuetzal and the Macaw: The Story of Costa Rica’s National Parks
by David Rains Wallace (Author)Publisher: Random House, Inc., (May 1992), ISBN: 0871565854

Delivers exactly what the subtitle promises. It’s the story of the politics and personal efforts that brought one of the greatest systems of National Parks in the world into being. Not nearly as dry as it sounds.
rated four out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
Out of print but available used from Amazon and Barnes&Noble

 

 

 

R

The Rainforests: A CelebrationThe Rainforests: A Celebration
by Living Earth Foundation, Lisa Silcock (Editor), H R H Charles the Prince of Wales, Paperback: 224 pages, Publisher: Chronicle Books, (1993), ASIN: 0811801551

Fantastic coffee table book loaded with beautiful, fascinating photographs and the added bonus of insightful, interesting text. It’s almost impossible not to learn something if you pick this book up. The photos will grab you attention, and you’ll scan the text for an explanation of the bizarre things you see.
rated five out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
out of print but available at excellent prices from Amazon

The Rivers of Costa Rica: A Canoeing, Kayaking and Rafting GuideThe Rivers of Costa Rica: A Canoeing, Kayaking and Rafting Guide
by Michael W. Mayfield, Paperback: 136 pages, Publisher: Menasha Ridge Press, (1988), ASIN: 0897320832

An indispensable guide for boaters, descriptions of the rapids along the major rivers of Costa Rica, useful black and white maps, some black and white photos, river typical flow calendar. The listing of guide companies is pretty out of date, but if any of these guys are still around they must be good. A few slow sections perfect for wildlife viewing float trips are included.
rated four out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
Out of print but often available from Amazon

 

 

 

S

Smithsonian Handbooks: Whales Dolphins and PorpoisesSmithsonian Handbooks: Whales Dolphins and Porpoises
by Mark Carwardine, Martin Camm (Illustrator), Paperback: 256 pages, Publisher: DK Publishing, (August 2002), ISBN: 0789489902

 

Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life: Florida Caribbean BahamasSnorkeling Guide to Marine Life: Florida Caribbean Bahamas
by Paul Humann, Ned Deloach, Paperback (spiral-binding), 80 pages, Publisher: New World Publications, (April 1995), ISBN: 1878348108

A brief reference to the Marine life of the Caribbean. Not specific to Costa Rica, but should cover anything you’ll encounter on the Caribbean and Cahuita National Park.
rated four out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

Stories from Latin America : Historias de LatinoamericaStories from Latin America : Historias de Latinoamerica
by Genevieve Barlow, Paperback, 192 pages, Publisher: McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Books; (1995), ISBN: 0844208124

Stories presented in both English and Spanish on facing pages.
rated four and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

The Surfer's Guide to Costa RicaThe Surfer’s Guide to Costa Rica
by Mike Parise, Paperback: 100 pages, Publisher: SurfPress Publishing, (1999), ISBN: 0967910005

There is no other guide to surfing in Costa Rica, and it wouldn’t matter if there was. This is the book.
rated 5 toucans by Costa-Rica-guide.com

 

T

 

Tales From The Jungle : A Rainforest ReaderTales From The Jungle : A Rainforest Reader
by Daniel R. Katz, Paperback, 398 pages, Publisher: Three Rivers Press, (1995), ISBN: 0517881608

Collection of environmental/ecological essays and short stories (late 1800’s to present) that give a sense of the rainforest. Sue says it’s great to get you in the mood. A good read, especially while one is traveling because the 2-30 page segments stand on their own. Not particularly Costa Rica specific but a good feel for the forests.
rated four and a half out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
Out of print but often available from Amazon

The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica

The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica
by Mavis Hiltunen Biesanz, Richard Biesanz, Karen Zubris Biesanz, Paperback, 295 pages, Publisher: Lynne Rienner Publishers, (November 1998), ISBN: 1555877370

rated four out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com

 

Travel & Site Guide to Birds of Costa Rica With Side Trips to PanamaTravel & Site Guide to Birds of Costa Rica With Side Trips to Panama
by Aaron D. Sekerak, Aaron D. Sekerak, Eussa Ginger, Elissa Conger (Illustrator), Paperback, 256 pages, Publisher: Lone Pine Publishing, (1996), ISBN: 1551050846

This book is exactly what it says, a guide to birding sites. It is not a field guide with color illustrations etc. That said, it’s a useful tool for planning a trip or getting more information about regions you are seeing on an organized tour. Includes some interesting back doors, and info on who to talk to in specific areas about seeing birds. If someone said “I would give $1000 to see a Calliphlox bryantae” you would have to look the common name up in a bird book first, then use the Travel and Site guide to locate a likely locale.
rated four out of five toucans by Costa-Rica-Guide.com
 

Trogons And Quetzals Of The WorldTrogons And Quetzals Of The World
by Paul A. Johnsgard, Hardcover, 272 pages, Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press, (July 2000), ISBN: 1560983884

 

 

Tropical NatureTropical Nature : Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America
by Adrian Forsyth, Paperback, 272 pages, Publisher: Touchstone Books, (1987), ISBN: 0684187108

A series of essays by the two authors (Forsyth mainly in Costa Rica, Miyata mainly in Ecuador). Chapters include, epiphytes, bugs and drugs, army ants, artful guises, Jerry’s maggot, night walks. The authors encourage you to get to know the rainforest by hanging out there. The writing style is more engaging than many authors that have attempted the same book. For example there is a chapter (fertility) on pooping in the woods, then waiting and watching as the rainforest assimilates your contribution to fertility. Highly Recommended.
rated 5 toucans by Costa-Rica-guide.com
 

 

 

U

Ultimate OrchidUltimate Orchid
by Smithsonian Institution, American Orchid Society, Thomas J. Sheehan,Hardcover: 160 pages, Publisher: DK Publishing, (2001), ISBN: 0789480441

Spectacular. Just what you would expect from the Smithsonian Institution teamed up with the American Orchid Society.
rated 5 toucans by Costa-Rica-guide.com
 

V

VolcanoesVolcanoes
by Mauro Rosi (Editor), Paolo Papale, Luca Lupi, Marco Stoppato, Franco Barberi (Editor), Jay Hyams (Editor), Paperback, 335 pages, Publisher: Firefly Books, (March 2003), ISBN: 1552976831

not yet reviewed
Written by experts in the field and beautifully illustrated. The first section covers the science and the second the details of over 100 active volcanoes around the world.
 

W

The Whales' SongThe Whales’ Song
by Dyan Sheldon, Gary Blythe (Illustrator), Paperback, 32 pages, Publisher: Puffin, (April 1997), ISBN: 0140559973

A wonderful children’s story of giving and hope beautifully illustrated with oil paintings.
Children ages 4-8

 

When New Flowers Bloomed: Short Stories by Women Writers from Costa Rica and PanamaWhen New Flowers Bloomed: Short Stories by Women Writers from Costa Rica and Panama
by Enrique Jaramillo Levi (Editor), Paperback, Publisher: Latin Amer Literary Review Press, (October 1991), ISBN: 0935480471

 

When Woman Became the Sea: A Costa Rican Creation MythWhen Woman Became the Sea: A Costa Rican Creation Myth
by Susan Strauss, Hardcover: 32 pages, Publisher: Beyond Words Publishing, (October 1998), ISBN: 1885223854

Children’s
 

Why Do Volcanoes Blow Their Tops?: Questions and Answers About Volcanoes and Earthquakes
by Melvin Berger, Gilda Berger, Higgins Bond (Illustrator), Barbara H. Bond (Illustrator), Paperback, 48 pages, Publisher: Scholastic Reference, (November 2000), ISBN: 0439148782

Kids 9-12 years, beautifully illustrated and scientifically accurate.
Buy from Amazon $US 5.95 -or-
Barnes&Nobel $US 5.95

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