Palm Islands Nature Reserve

click to enlarge
click to go to the Palm Islands website

What is there to see?
The reserve consists of three uninhabited Mediterranean islands and 500m of surrounding sea. This marine ecosystem is of global significance, because it is one of the few remaining breeding grounds for the endangered Loggerhead Turtle. The Islands are a resting place for 156 species of migratory bird. The Islands are rich in beach flora and medicinal plants and their costal waters have an abundance of fish, sea sponges and other sea life.

How do I get there, and practical arrangements?

By boat trip from the harbor of El Mina, Tripoli. The Islands are 5.5 Km northwest of Tripoli.

Important Practical arrangements

July to September:
In the summer season the reserve is open to the public (without permits). All fishing boats and the 5-6 promenade boats can ferry people to the islands. 5000 LL/person when the number is above 30 persons. (If below 30, the trip costs 100-130$.) Any one can negotiate the price with the fishermen at the harbor of El Mina.

October to June:
Anyone can visit the islands but they need to obtain a permit. The committee encourages research and education visits. Organized group eco tourists are also welcomed. Tourist and school groups should apply 48 hours prior to the date of the visit, via fax to 06 615938 to the Committee of Palm Islands expressing their wish to visit the islands and indicating the date of their visit. They should also indicate the name of the boat and the pilot who is going to ferry them to and from the islands. If they can not assign a boat or pilot, the committee can do it on their behalf. The faxed paper should have the names (First, Father, and Surname) of all participants with the objective of the visit (educational, recreational, etc). Foreigners should indicate their nationality. This procedure is obligatory as it is imposed by the army.

The committee will issue a visit permit and fax a copy of it to the army. The army will check the names. Once the no-objection comes from the army, the group can visit the island. The committee usually helps in selecting the boat and the pilot to avoid security imposed problems. The visit is allowed for one day from sunrise to sunset. They can stay as much as they want (0 hour to 10 hours). No overnight visits are allowed in accordance with the law of the reserve.

What is there to do?
Bird watching, hiking, guided interpretive tours, snorkelling, swimming, diving (must be licensed and have a permit) and photography.

What is the Cost?
There is no entrance fee but donations for the management of the reserve are welcome.

Are there special activities for educational visits?
Visitors, school groups may wish to indicate that they are in need of a guide for their visit. The rangers/guides are aware of all planned visits. They accompany (on demand) visitors, school children and others and explain to them the characteristics of the reserve. They don’t take fees for the interpretative walks but they don’t mind to accept remunerations.

How can I find out more?

http://www.moe.gov.lb/ProtectedAreas/palmislands.htm (including a brochure of the reserve)