1. IS­LAND ES­CAPE

Lebanon Traveler - - IN FOCUS BEIRUT -

El Mina, Tripoli has nine is­lands. The clos­est is Ab­dul Wa­hab Is­land, which can be vis­ited by cross­ing a bridge over the sea. In 1992, a na­ture re­serve was es­tab­lished for three of the is­lands un­der the name Palm Is­lands Na­ture Re­serve. It in­cludes El Nakhl (Palms Is­land), com­monly known as Jazi­rat El Aranib (Rab­bit Is­land), be­cause of the rab­bits bred here dur­ing Le­banon’s French Man­date pe­riod; Sanani Is­land, the fur­thest is­land from Tripoli main­land, where sea tur­tles lay their eggs; and Ramkine, also known as El Fa­nar, which has an old light­house that now func­tions on solar en­ergy. The largest is­land, El Bil­lan, is named af­ter a type of plant that grows on it and con­tains a small cav­ern on the west side. The smaller is­land, El Rmayleh has sandy beaches. El Ashak (the Lovers), is also known as El Te­nieh (the sec­ond). El Tel­teh (the Third) is a flat, rocky is­land mid­way be­tween the coast and the most dis­tant is­land. El Rabha (the Fourth), also known as El Maatih (the Cut-off), is the small­est is­land and is used as a dock­ing place by fish­er­men, while out at sea.

SLEEP Take a week­end to is­land hop, and head back to main­land in the evenings to spend a night at the charm­ing guest­house

Beit El Nes­sim (03 308156, beit­el­nes­sim. com) or bou­tique ho­tel Via Mina (06 222227, Via Mina Ho­tel).

EAT Bring a pic­nic with you to en­joy on the is­lands. Be a re­spon­si­ble vis­i­tor and take your trash home with you.

SEE Visit the sec­ond largest of the is­lands, El Nakhl, where re­mains of a church from the Cru­sader era can be seen, along with pools from the 13th cen­tury, in ad­di­tion to the ru­ins of an­cient tra­di­tional salinas (salt basins) where salt was once col­lected.

GO WITH A GUIDE Book a full pack­age with Tour Leb (70 484545) for their Rab­bit Thurs­day, ev­ery week from May to Septem­ber, or take lo­cal fish­er­man guide Fadi Chab­tini (03 796082) and ex­pe­ri­ence tra­di­tional fish­ing or an is­land tour.

Photo: Nada Raphael Photo: Cle­ment Tan­nouri

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