There was no explanation whatsoever for that golf ball thumping to earth by my feet. I like to think that one of those great pings being emitted over at Arecibo had seen a response, that someone out in the great ­beyond had chosen to drop a golf ball from the heavens.

I had come to Puerto Rico for a paradigm shift in how I viewed the place, to be stunned and amazed. And so, in several previously unlikely ways, I was.
If You Go

Puerto Rico’s main hub is the city of San Juan, located in the island’s northeast region. My journey began there. I stayed at the Embassy Suites Dorado del Mar Beach and Golf Resort (787-796-6125), 45 minutes west of San Juan in the beachfront community of Dorado. To reach the Radiotelescopio de Arecibo (787-878-2612), follow Highway 22 to Route 129, and follow the signs. Operating hours are Wednesday through Friday, noon to four p.m.; Saturday, Sunday, and holidays, nine a.m. to four p.m. The new visitor center hosts an interactive exhibit for all ages and a 20-minute movie about the observatory. The Rio Camuy Caverns (787-898-3100) are just a short drive from the ­observatory. Operating hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. If you’re up for more adventure, Puerto Rico has many fine tour operators that cover activities ranging from horseback riding to kayaking. AdvenTours (www.adventours.com) offers excursions for those who enjoy cultural history, outdoor sports, mountain biking, jungle trekking, and stargazing. Legends of Puerto Rico (www.legendsofpr.com), Aqua Frenzy­ Kayaks (aquafrenzy@hotmail.com), and Aquatica Dive and Bike Adventours (www.aquatica.cjb.net) also offer a complete range of outdoor activities.