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Costa Rica--suggestions on places to visit

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I am interested in visiting Costa Rica for the first time in March for 7-8 days. I understand that the last week of March is holy week (Semana Santa) and so prices are higher and places book up fast. I certainly will want to avoid this week. I am a bit overwhelmed though after reading the forums and getting advice from friends. We are a couple in our early 40's who enjoy adventure but also the beach/relaxation time. We enjoy mingling with the locals and trying different food. We are not interested in 5 star resorts but do like a clean, comfortable place to stay. My boyfriend enjoys renting a car and exploring on his own (is this safe?) I hear the arsenal volcano should not be avoided. I hear Uvita is gorgeous. I also am interested in the Tabacon Hot Springs. We love to kayak and snorkel as well. I guess I need a little help on narrowing the region down to visit first before looking into hotels. Any help is greatly appreciated as I know we can't do it all. Thank you!

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