Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Maggie McKneely

Are you planning a trip to the green gem of Central America? Be sure to check out some of the best books about Costa Rica before you go!

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Books about Costa Rica

In terms of world history, Costa Rica is very young. It doesn’t have a history of human civilization stretching back thousands of years. You won’t find many archaeological sites or ancient wonders here. What you will find is a nation known for its natural beauty and for its dedication and skill in protecting and preserving those resources.

So the books written about this Central American gem are about being lost in its jungles (sometimes literally), the history of its conservation policies, and learning to live as the locals do – by embracing pura vida, the simply and cheerful outlook on life that Costa Rica is famous for. I asked some of my fellow travel bloggers for their recommendations on the best books about Costa Rica, and the resulting list is as diverse as the nation itself. Enjoy!


Jurassic Park

Technically, Jurassic Park takes place on an island just off the coast of Costa Rica. But author Michael Crichton spent years in the country, which is why he chose it as the backdrop for his famous novels.

The country’s jungles make it the perfect setting for a biological experiment gone wrong. When the novel’s scientists discover a new technology that allows them to clone dinosaur DNA, they think that humankind’s wildest fantasies are about to come true. Creatures that have been extinct for millenia are suddenly brought back to life and put on display at Jurassic Park.

Until, that is, something goes terribly wrong.

Read the words that inspired the award-winning movie as Crichton takes you on a terrifying journey through the jungles of Costa Rica. It might not make you want to visit anytime soon, but it is undoubtedly one of the best books about Costa Rica.

jurassic park costa rica

Midnight Rainbow

This book is a novel about love and mystery set in the jungles of Costa Rica. The story had to place in the wilderness, which makes Costa Rica the perfect setting – it’s not very big, but it contains 6%of the world’s flaura and fauna species!

Midnight Rainbow tells the story of a government agent, Grant Sullivan, who agrees to rescue a wealthy socialite, Priscilla Greer, from someone who is holding her prisoner because of her important position and her access to confidential data. Initially Priscilla doesn’t want the agent’s help, but when she finally agrees, her rescue is complicated by the duo’s chemistry.

It was written by Linda Howard, an American writer, who paints a mental picture of the Costa Rican rainforest as if she were born there. From the first pages of the book, you can feel the heat of the jungle.

This thriller-romance novel is made even more exciting by the exotic setting. From barely-marked trails to Costa Rica’s incredible hot springs and waterfalls, it’s easy to imagine the book’s scenes as you read them. This fun adventure is one of the best books about Costa Rica.

Recommended by: Soline from On the Road Diary

midnight rainbow costa rica books

Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion

Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion is a remarkable compilation of some of the best short stories from this small Central American nation. Originally written in Spanish between the 1930s-1990s, this book sets down, for the first time in English, the writings of Costa Rica’s best authors. They paint literary pictures of the coffee fields and banana plantations, the mist shrouded mountains, cicadas and colorful songbirds.

The stories are less of a travel guide and more of an insight into what makes up the soul of Costa Rica. The collection spans decades and portrays a diverse array of topics and style. The result is a cultural kaleidoscope that will help a traveler understand the people that make up Costa Rica a little bit better. That certainly makes it one of the best books about Costa Rica to read before traveling there.

costa rica


Happier Than a Billionaire

Happier Than a Billionaire by Nadine Pisani is a book about Costa Rica that is a must-read for anyone planning a trip there.

This funny and uplifting book shares the tale of an American woman and her husband stuck in the rat race, unhappy with their corporate lives and desperately seeking a change of pace. They follow their dreams of moving to Costa Rica, to live a happier, pura vida life.

Nadine’s first-hand account of the trials and tribulations of navigating life and travel in Costa Rica is hilarious, and a refreshing reminder of the challenges of a lesser-developed country. Particularly one that is covered in jungles filled with all kinds of creepy crawlies! From the pot-hole riddled roads to the unreliable utilities and the illogical bureaucracies, Happier Than a Billionaire prepares visitors for the realities of travel in Costa Rice.

At the same time, Nadine excites and inspires readers by painting a picture of some of the most popular tourist destinations in Costa Rica and the wonderful experiences awaiting visitors. From the looming Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna, the wildlife of Manuel Antonio, and the sparkling beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula, you’ll be bursting to get on the plan!

Recommended by: Sally from Sally Sees

happier than a billionaire costa rica

The Green Republic

The Green Republic: A Conservation History of Costa Rica is considered one of the best books about Costa Rica if you want to learn about conservation efforts in this Central American country.

A few decades ago, Costa Rica was facing a dramatic deforestation because of the meat and agriculture industry, with critical habitats and natural resources being destroyed. However, the country was able to successfully reverse course and today it’s considered a conservation model in Latin America. Costa Rica has invested heavily in environmental education and made a big effort to protect its natural resources. The laws in Costa Rica restrict human exploitation of natural resources and put greater focus on protection and preservation of its flora and fauna.

Today, more than 25 percent of land in the country is protected as reserves, refuges, and national parks. Costa Rica is also one of the most biodiverse countries that has over 600 species per 10,000 square kilometers. It’s one of the most popular destinations in the world for eco-tourism and wildlife watching and you can learn about how the country has achieved this success in The Green Republic.

Recommended by: Daria from Explore Baja California

green republic costa rica

Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate

Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate: Exotic and Unseen Costa Rica is a captivating book written by naturalist Jack Ewing, offering a unique perspective on Costa Rica from the author’s three decades spent living there. The book delves deep into the diverse wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, and rich culture of the country, taking readers on a journey to the corners of Costa Rica often overlooked by tourists.

Travelers should read this book to gain profound insights into Costa Rica’s hidden treasures. Ewing not only shares his personal experiences but also imparts knowledge about the ecological diversity and amazing flora and fauna of the country. From rainforests to volcanoes, the book provides a unique glimpse into Costa Rica’s beauty that is often overshadowed by the country’s more conventional destinations.

Reading this book will inspire travelers to venture off the beaten path and discover the authentic beauty of Costa Rica. Ewing’s vivid descriptions and narratives make this one of the greatest books about Costa Rica for those seeking to experience the true heart of this remarkable country.

Recommended by: Carolin from Happy When Abroad

books about costa rica

The Adventurer’s Son

The Adventurer’s Son is a non-fiction book about the disappearance of a 27-year old man from the United States named Cody Roman Dial. Dial traveled to the Costa Rican jungle in July of 214 with the intent of hiking solo for four days in Corcovado National Park. He never returned.

Corcovado National Park, located on the South Pacific Coast of the Costa Rica, is considered one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. In the park, there is various wildlife that can potentially kill a person from Fer-de-lance snakes to jaguars. Additionally, this area is sometimes traversed by miners, poachers, and drug smugglers.There are many reasons that this park is only accessible with a certified guide, something that Dial ignored on his solo trek.

This book was written by Dial’s father, who chronicles the two years he spent trying to find out what happened to his son. He visits this remote area of Costa Rica multiple times to speak with locals, he confronts the authorities, and even questions his own possible involvement.

The Adventurer’s Son is one of the rare books about Costa Rica that gives insight into both the beauty and the dark side of this country.

Recommended by: Sarah from Costa Rica Vibes

books about costa rica adventurer's son

Have you read any other books about Costa Rica that you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments!

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Planning a trip to this Central America gem? Be sure to check out some of these awesome books about Costa Rica before your trip! #costarica Planning a trip to this Central America gem? Be sure to check out some of these awesome books about Costa Rica before your trip! #costarica Planning a trip to this Central America gem? Be sure to check out some of these awesome books about Costa Rica before your trip! #costarica



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