Using a private Facebook group open only to the residents of Manuel Antonio — one of Costa Rica’s most popular tourist destinations — author Evelyn Gallardo determined what to include in her latest book: Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica Travel Guide: The Best of Manuel Antonio & Quepos 2013. Manuel Antonio National Park is less than eight square miles, but receives more than 150,000 annual visitors. Of the 27 travel activities available in Costa Rica, Manuel Antonio offers 24 of them. This unique community-driven approach to pinpointing the best of the best in the area is nothing new to Gallardo who says, “My annual book is an intimate insider’s guide to local favourites and what makes our beach resort town and the people in it tick. I distribute a questionnaire, the locals vote for their favourite restaurant, tour, artist, massage therapist, etc. Next, I interview and write a chapter about each of the winners. The value to readers is they receive recommendations from a collective group of people who spend time and money here every day.”
Instead of a book launch party, Gallardo recently hosted an awards party at the “Best Local Hangout.” Awards were presented to the category winners in front of the entire community who gathered to honour and celebrate their favourites. Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica Travel Guide: The Best of Manuel Antonio & Quepos 2013 is available in paperback and for Kindle on Amazon and at http://www.DiscoveryBeachouse.com . Gallardo first visited Costa Rica in 1988 as a wildlife photographer. She is the author of the award-winning book, Among the Orangutans – The Birute Galdikas Story and Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica Travel Guide: The Best of Manuel Antonio & Quepos, 2012. She has produced more than 100 videos about Costa Rica, travel, conservation, and primates. She currently runs a vacation rental home business in Manuel Antonio.