The 2023 Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Fest was one for the books. Merging the upbeat sounds of the Caribbean with Afro beats and even rock, the event brought out thousands of avid music lovers to the nation's Pigeon Island. Held from May 5-14, 2023—with most of the musical acts performing May 11-14, 2023—festival goers were treated to the sounds of some of the world's top artists and groups.

EBONY was front row center for all festivities, and we even spent a little extra time exploring everything this beautiful island has to offer. Get into this insider's recap, including, the best moments from the 2023 jazz fest, our favorite activities and restaurants, as well as some of our top recommendations for hotels and resorts.

If Saint Lucia has been on your travel bucket list, or it's one of your favorite vacation spots, check out this curated guide on all the best things to see, do, and eat while there.

The iconic Saint Lucia Pitons. Image: Courtesy of DeAnna Taylor.

Ayra Starr, Shaggy, Sting and more tear down the stage

After a three-year hiatus, the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Fest returned with a bang. The multiday event brought talents like Cece Winans, Shenseea, Buju Banton and more. But, the true highlights were Saturday and Sunday night, the last two evenings of the event.

Saturday was themed. 'World Beats' night, and it was truly an ode to the Mother Continent. Although inclusive of artists globally, the night was dedicated to some of the top Afro beat talents of today. Nigerian sensation C Kay gave an energetic performance before ending with his viral TikTok hit, "Love Nwatiti." International Afro beat artist Ayra Starr also took the stage, performing several of her top songs for the multi-thousand person crowd. The Afro beats night closed out with crowd favorite Kassav.

Afrobeat artist C Kay during Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival. Image: Courtesy of DeAnna Taylor.

The final night, was a night of legendary proportions—literally. A somewhat unusual pair, but very close friends, reggae artist Shaggy and rock legend Sting teamed up for a nearly 2-hour set. Performing their individual hits, but with twists to include the other. Attendees sang along with nearly every song the entire performance. Just after the show, the two artists announced their own special collaborative US music festival that will take place in Philly on September 9, 2023.

Reggae legend Shaggy performs alongside his good friend, Sting. Image: Courtesy of DeAnna Taylor.

Where we stayed

Once you arrive into the island, take the short cab ride to the ferry dock to hop aboard the FunToSee Island Ferry Service for a scenic, and relaxing ride to your local accommodation or hotel. Stopping at the major ports, it's a great way to get the island vibes going early, with unlimited local beer and soft drinks. Oh, and once you're onboard, say hi to Captain Bradley, a talented licensed local boat driver skilled at handling the water vessel.

Saint Lucia is a magical island, so it's very hard to select a 'bad' accommodation. For the event, we stayed at the host hotel, Windjammer Landing Beach Resort in Castries. It was a short 20-minute water taxi ride away from the jazz festival, and nearly everyone involved in the event also stayed at the massive all-inclusive property. With gorgeous luxury villas that tuck into the lush mountainous backdrop, Windjammer is definitely the place to be if you want to treat—and pamper—yourself.

Some of our other favorite properties on the island are all Black-owned. Sol Sanctum is Saint Lucia's newest boutique hotel in the Rodney Bay area and is dedicated to providing the highest level of zen through fresh vegan breakfast and daily wellness classes. Bay Gardens Beach Resort—also in Rodney Bay—is a stunning beachfront hotel complete with a spa, watersports, delicious local cuisine and more. Stonefield Villa Resort is a stunning family-owned property tucked away amidst the tranquil green hills of Soufriere, Saint Lucia's volcanic region.

Beachfront of the Windjammer Landing Resort. Image: Courtesy of DeAnna Taylor.

Where we ate

Conch fritters, fresh fruit daiquiris, rum punch, grilled fish, and more. These are only a few of the mouthwatering dishes we indulged in during our visit. If you're a foodie, you know Caribbean islands always deliver on flavor and spice. For this trip, we mostly stayed in the Soufriere, Castries and Rodney Bay areas.

In Sourfriere we had a homecooked lunch at a local hidden gem in the downtown area. Stone Yard Restaurant & Bar had some of the best fresh-squeezed passion fruit juice, grilled BBQ chicken and macaroni pie that we've ever tried. In Rodney Bar, a favorite was Spinnakers. The jumbo coconut shrimp, lobster, and grilled Mahi Mahi are worth the trip. If you're in Castries, consider dinner at The Windjammer Resort's Upper Deck Restaurant, a premium steakhouse dining experience.

Best things to see and do

First and foremost, you're on an island so a proper beach day must be in the cards. If you are in Rodney Bay, but not at a beachfront accommodation, you can purchase an all-inclusive day pass from Bay Gardens Beach Resort. You'll get a beach lounger, lunch, and more.

For a bit of adventure, head to Soufriere to the drive-in volcano and take a dip in the mud baths. They are said to have several health and wellness benefits, especially for those who suffer from skin issues or inflammation. Immediately after, and a short drive away, head to the Toraille Waterfall for a gorgeous natural occurrence.

If you like a bit of turn up and party with your island vacation, a tour with Knotty Girl tours is the way to go. With endless rum punch on deck, this boat tour stops at some of the best snorkeling spots on the island while keeping the tunes going the entire day. It's an amazing way to spend your time exploring the island by boat.

Toraille Waterfall in Soufriere. Image: Courtesy of DeAnna Taylor.