The next time you disembark from a cruise ship in sunny St Lucia and head for the Duty Free, you are in for a surprise. With no synagogue on the island and only about 100 Jews spread around the place, you would not be expecting a greeting from the local rabbi.
But Rabbi Avraham Super is there by the shops to welcome cruise ship passengers as he promotes the faith. His enthusiasm is as bright as the sunshine and he is St Lucia’s first and only rabbi.
He told me all about his work and his goals when we met up. I felt exhausted by how much he is trying to achieve – luckily I could return to my sun lounger afterwards! Although we have cruised into St Lucia a few times, on this occasion my partner, Ilisa, and I were booked into two hotels and we met Rabbi Super early into our stay. He is a man who lives up to his name.
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In just a few years, he has got the small Jewish community together and ensured you can eat kosher on the island. He is on hand for a Shabbat service, and has big projects in mind, including building a shul, a Jewish visitor centre, a library and a deli. The Australian-born rabbi is a father of three. He and his wife moved to this eastern Caribbean gem from Miami a little over five years ago to open a Chabad and is available for weddings, bar mitzvahs and even barbecues. Yes, he hosts one every Monday.
But his number one aim is to build that synagogue and, despite the massive challenge, he remains optimistic. ”God has no limits. What’s a million dollars to God?” he says.
Calabash Cove is a five-star hotel in the northern part of the island and about a 90-minute drive from the airport. We entered a charming open-air lobby, just in front of the restaurant, where the views of the Caribbean Sea quickly make the long day of travel a distant memory.
A huge jacuzzi bathtub took centre in an attractive open-plan bedroom, with impressive dark Caribbean wooden furniture. We spent many hours on the balcony relaxing and looking out to sea and the surrounding lush gardens and tropical flowers. Every morning we enjoyed breakfast there, including signature coconut pancakes with homemade jam.
To our right was an infinity pool, a swim-up bar and comfortable cabanas while just to our left was the beach. All beaches in St Lucia are public but this felt very private. It is small and cosy with an enchanting cove setting. With only 26 rooms at this adults-only resort, things never felt busy and we were treated like part of a family.
The only ‘disturbance’ was staff setting up the attractive pier area for a beach wedding. Ilisa gave me a nudge during the ceremony and I thought it was time to get down on one knee. But she was just after another cocktail!
The chef at this property really knows his stuff – we particularly enjoyed the local mahi-mahi fish – and his presentation is as pretty as the place itself. The rum cheesecake to follow soon became a favourite and, should you feel any guilt, there is a fitness centre. Happily, oops, I mean unfortunately, I forgot to pack the right footwear.
Just 20 minutes away from Calabash is the chocolate-making Howelton Estate, which dates back to 1896 and is named after its then-owner who was the local dentist, Dr Howelton, who was known as ‘the butcher’! There is plenty more on the estate, including the chance to buy unique handbags and jewellery from a local artist, clothes, and arts and crafts.
After six nights at Calabash Cove, we headed in a southerly direction to the boutique Stonefield Villa Resort. This former cocoa plantation sits in the shadow of Petit Piton which, together with Gros Piton is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You would be hard pushed to find a more spectacular setting anywhere on the planet. The Pitons are mountains formed from volcanic activity. We were offered the chance to climb Gros Piton… oh dear, that footwear problem again.
We were extremely content for three days in our gorgeous French-colonial-style villas, where the patio area contained a hammock, a seating area and a generously-sized private pool. The lush surroundings here are divine and I kept looking up to my left and staring at Petit Piton. A very short uphill walk to the restaurant proved exhausting such was our relaxed state (and extra few pounds). Just like at Calabash Cove, the food is delicious and the staff are wonderful… ”another Piton beer, sir?”
We enjoyed probably our best-ever massages at the hotel’s spa. At first I was shaken by my other half giving me the elbow near the end, but it turned out she was waking me up. She’d, err, had enough of my snoring.
Rabbi Super with Mark Silver
Stonefield is adults-only, has 17 villas (one is for families) and, surprisingly, a four-star rating. I would give it seven!
Our other excursion was nearby and is a must-see. Soufriere’s unique drive-in volcano puts you in the heart of a crater before walking ‘next door’ for a mud bath, which is both relaxing and excellent for the body. Close by are the dazzling Sapphire Falls, and en route to them you experience nature at its best.
Before I had left that memorable meeting with Rabbi Super, he helped me lay tefillin and explained about the connection this gives you to God. God willing, it won’t be long before I am back in magical St Lucia.
For more information on Saint Lucia visit stlucia.org
British Airways direct return flights from £523pp ba.com