**reposting in individual island forums since the main caribbean forum doesnt seem to have many visitors.**
I know this question has been asked time and time again, but I've been researching for days and still can't figure out the main differences between each of the islands and which is best for us.
We're fairly inexperienced travelers from San Francisco, (we've done lots of Hawaii and then Bora Bora for our honeymoon) but we love the beach and exploring tropical locales. While beautiful beaches are a must, we're not looking to park our butts on the sand the whole time. Adventure (land and water), wildlife and local food are high on our list as well. We don't like feeling confined to the resort and would prefer somewhere it would be safe/easy to rent a car and do some exploring on our own (don't want to have to count on tours/excursions).
We don't need a private beach and we're okay with a little hustle and bustle, though we don't want somewhere thats overrrun with kids/families..
We also don't have a ton of time or money to spend. We're planning on spending 5 nights over Thanksgiving, and under $3k to spend on airfare/hotel/car, etc.
From what I've been able to gather, Punta Cana, Grand Cayman, St John and Anguilla tend to be favorites, but I can't seem to find what distinguishes them from one another or whether or not they'd be right for us.
Lastly, we've also been tossing around the idea of Kauai since we love Hawaii and havent been to that particular island yet, but feel like we should venture out beyond Hawaii since we've spent so much time on Oahu and Maui already. Not that I want to be talked out of going to the Caribbean, but just thought it might be useful info.
I'm obviously scattered, so any info/insight would be hugely appreciated!