Five days playing in the waves playing surfer bum with my son. Read Kook by Peter Heller which the house we were renting had on the bookshelf. And then up into the mountains. In the more heavily frequented highlands, you pay to go anywhere. Also, the tourists were all wearing the same bug proof Sierra Club pants my wife insisted we buy at EMS to prevent us catching dengue fever. Apparently they all read the same blog post. Waste of time as there were no bugs. I told you so. You could get away with jeans and a can of bug spray.
The best thing we did as a family was the horseback tour where you go up into the mountain tracks and see how the people really live. Costa Rica is essentially a country of small-holdings. The Spanish did not follow the normal pattern of enslaving the locals for their labor, instead becoming farmers and actually settling the interior. Consequently today the country seems to actually be a Latin variant of the Jeffersonian ideal, and indeed the ethic of responsibility and ownership could be seen everywhere, from the recycling being done extensively down to the smallest villages, to the informed conversations you could have with all sorts of people about topics as varied and difficult as global warming and government corruption.
On the last day we stayed in Alajuela, near the airport, and wandered into the museum dedicated to the town's hero, Juan Santamaria, who died battling the southern American mercenary William Walker. Walker intended to take over Central America and make it a slave state. Given that Costa Rica has no military, it makes it even more poignant that they should honor the heroism of such a man, whom most of us have never heard of.