The Palm Islands Nature Reserve consists of three flat, rocky islands of eroded limestone and the surrounding sea area, located 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) offshore and northwest of the city of Mina El Mina, Lebanon, to the west of Tripoli, Lebanon.
Open to public from July until October, Lebanon’s only protected marine life area is easily reached from Tripoli’s fishing port of Al-Mina.
The largest of the three islands is Palm Island also known as Rabbits Island
The island draws thousands of visitors on day trips for by ferry.
It has an area of 20 hectares (560 meters wide and 460 meters wide). It is flat without major reliefs (highest point, 6 meters). Its earthen middle separates a rocky shoreline extending from the north-west to the south, and a sandy beach lying from the north to the east. The name “Araneb” (rabbits) comes from the great numbers of rabbits that were grown on the island during the time of the French mandate early in the 20th century. It is now a nature reserve for green turtles, rare birds and rabbits. Declared as a protected area by UNESCO in 1992, camping, fire building or other depredation is forbidden. In addition to its scenic landscape, the Palm island is also a cultural heritage site. Evidence for human occupation, dated mainly to the Crsader period, was uncovered during 1973 excavations by the General Directorate of Antiquities. An old salinas and a water-well can also be found.
The Island of the Rabbits, named for the fast-breeding community of furry animals introduced to the island by French soldiers in the 1920s, is under the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution because of its importance for nesting and migratory birds, turtles and seals. Ruins of an old church, dating from medieval times, stand on the rocky part of the island, which also has a fresh water well.