1. ISLAND ESCAPE
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.