Al Istiklal RD, Al Mina', Liban-Nord, Lebanon,
The islands hosted an important settlement as attested by the presence of numerous ostraca dating to the late Roman and medieval periods as well as several rock-cut cisterns.
The first excavation of Palm Island was undertaken in October 1973 and revealed the foundations of several buildings dating to the Crusades in which earlier architectural elements,
such as column drums and fragments of capitals had been re-used.
Among the medieval sources that make mention of the offshore isles of Tripoli is the Arab geographer Idrisi who visited the city during the twelfth century at the time when it was ruled by Raymond III; Idrisi wrote:
Opposite the city of Tripoli are four islands in a row. The first of them, and nearest to the land, is the Narcissus Isle (an -Narjis) ; it is very small and is unoccupied. Then comes the Isle of the Column (al-tantid), then Monk’s Isle (ArRahib), and then the Isle of Ardhakun (or Udhákun).
The Crusaders built a church upon the largest island. It was there that Alice of Champagne, the widow of Hugh I of Cyprus came in 1224 to marry Bohemond V of Antioch. The royal wedding took place in this church which we are told by Arab chroniclers was dedicated to Thomas the Apostle. Years later the island became the scene of a bloody massacre; when the Mamelukes entered Tripoli in 1289 the panic-stricken inhabitants fled to the port and crossed over to the island. Many took refuge in the church where they were put to death when the Mamelukes caught up with them. The island was afterwards abandoned for many years.
At present the Palm Islands are managed and monitored daily by the Tripoli City Environment Protection Committee and its team with two rangers keeping intruders at bay.
The islands were first open to the public in 1999.
The islands are only open to the public between July and September though they may be closed during this period if environmental work or studies are being undertaken.
Local fisherman operated ferries assure the transport of visitors from the Tripoli-mina port to the Islands.