Whether or not you think Puerto Rico should or shouldn't become the fifty-first state doesn't change one simple fact -- the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico is vacation heaven. Whether you enjoy gambling, baseball, beach, surfing, boutique hotels, small and inexpensive pension hotels or large resorts, golf or local food such as skirt steak drenched in garlic, Puerto Rico has more leisure activities to choose from than most summer camps. With good air routes from major carriers and several destinations inside Puerto Rico, travel deals can be had by the handful.

The well respected no-frills discount airline JetBlue (tel. 800/538-2583, has "Getaways" to areas around San Juan and Ponce. A Wednesday to Sunday trip towards the end of March out of New York with airfare and four nights in a resort hotel starts at $677.88 per person. Accommodations are at the oceanfront Condado Plaza Hotel and Casino, a four-star resort overlooking the Atlantic. The hotel has a large pool with a swim-up bar, lighted tennis courts and a full-fitness center. One of the hotel's restaurants overlooks the lagoon.

For romantics or couples looking for a quiet escape, JetBlue has a similar four-night trip to the ultra-luxurious former Rock resort, Hyatt Dorado Beach Resort and Country Club. The hotel is offering fourth, fifth and sixth-night frees at various periods during the 2006 Calendar year. From March 1 till April 12, 2006, for example, the fifth night is free, meaning the above trip just got one night longer. The Dorado is a small beachfront property with two-level buildings where each floor is a single hotel room. The beach is quite private, the hotel's casino small, and the dining area is dark and intimate. By contrast, the Cerromar next door is a gigantic property with a circular pool and activities geared towards families and young children. The hotel offers a championship golf course as well. The $1,171.50 per person price point with airfare gets you that night free as well.

Cheap Caribbean (tel. 800/915-2322; is currently having a winter special where trips to Puerto Rico are on sale. A six-day five-night trip including airfare from several U.S. gateways and accommodations at the El Conquistador resort and Golden Spa starts at $899 per person with a double occupancy. Travel dates are good from now through April 30, 2006 with a booking deadline of February 28, 2006. Hotel accommodations are in standard garden view room. The large hotel sits on a cliff 300 feet above the Atlantic. The hotel even boasts its own private island for activity-filled days. With 918 guest-rooms and over ten dining spots, El Conquistador is a world unto its own. March and April departures are widely available. A four-night trip from Cheap Caribbean starts at $399 per person. Travel for this deal is good from April 2 to April 23, 2006 and then from May 1 to September 23, 2006 with a booking deadline of March 1, 2006. Prices will vary based on your departure city.

The Vacation Travel Mart (tel. 800/288-1435; has several packages to Puerto Rico. A three-night trip to the 48-room Hotel Miramar starts at $519 out of New York. Other gateways are available for additional moneys. All air tax and security fees are extra. The Miramar is a coastal property with amenities. Out of Miami the trip costs $429 and $619 out of Philadelphia.

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