Many places in the world are famous for their active volcanic island. Every year, tourists, especially, adventurous geo tourists, flock to these islands to get a glimpse of the rare phenomena. If you, too, want to explore volcanoes, you may think that you’d have to travel to the popular Icelandic volcanoes. But that’s not true. You can visit a volcano much closer to home in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The Barren Island volcano is not just an active volcano, it is also the only active volcano in South Asia. Can you imagine just how special this place is? Your trip to the Andamans is incomplete without a Barren Island volcano visit.
What makes a Barren Island volcano visit special?
For one, Barren Island is the only active volcano in the whole of South Asia. It lies along a chain of volcanoes from Myanmar to Sumatra and is the only one that was impacted by the tectonic impact of the 2004 tsunami. Most tourist sail to the island to enjoy the majestic and ancient caldera of the volcano spewing smoke out into the stunning blue sky. It is surrounded by ash-coloured beaches all around (unfortunately, no one is allowed to go so close to the island to land on it because of the unsafe conditions). The only creatures that live on the island are bats, birds, rodents, and some feral goats.
But your Barren Island volcano visit will not be just about the volcano. The volcano has so deeply impacted the underwater terrain around it that the surrounding area has become a perfect spot for many water activities like game fishing, snorkelling, and scuba diving.
Fishing in Barren Island
Game fishing is a popular water activity on Barren Island. While Andamans is full of game fishing spots, Barren Island boasts the most stunning fish in terms of size and quantity. Giant Blue Marlin, Black Marlin, Yellow Fin Tuna, and Dogtooth tuna are very common around these parts. Also common are Dorado and snailfish. You’ll get a chance to catch a trophy. Don’t worry about spending the day trying to get a fish. The volume of fish around Barren Island is huge. Also, your guide will show you the right spots to fish.
Snorkelling in Barren Island
If you enjoy snorkelling, you must not miss doing it during your Barren Island volcano visit. Snorkelling is a fun activity and you don’t even need to know how to swim or dive to snorkel. That’s because you don’t have to dive while snorkelling. You just need your snorkelling gear and you can float on the water to enjoy the stunning view of the underwater world from the surface. Your charter boat will come with snorkelling gear.
Even if you float on the surface, you’ll still be able to enjoy a stunning view of the marine world as you watch reef sharks, rays, and beautiful fish like angelfish and butterflyfish gliding effortlessly under the water.
Scuba diving in Barren Island
The Andaman archipelago is famous for its scuba diving activities. While there are many great diving spots like the Aquarium, Lighthouse, The Wall, and Johnny’s Gorge at Havelock Island, the diving spots at Barren Island are a world apart. There are around six diving spots near the Barren Island volcano, but the most popular spots are Purple Haze, Barren Garden, and Manta Point.
To dive in Barren Island, however, you’d need to have an advanced-level scuba certification. That’s because the terrain is a bit difficult to navigate for everyone; also, the depth of the dives is deep and the visibility is low underwater. If you are not an experienced scuba diver, you can still explore the marine life in Barren Island by snorkelling.
Best way to travel to Barren Island
If you want to explore water sports and fishing at Barren Island then the only way to go to the island is by charter boat. Boat charters to Barren Island are very common and can be availed from either Port Blair or Havelock Island. Going on a charter boat for a Barren Island volcano visit will ensure that your journey to and from the island is in itself an experience.
If you take a charter boat to Barren Island from Port Blair, you’ll reach your destination in 4-5 hours. However, from Havelock Island, you can cover the distance within 2-3 hours. The best option is to travel to Havelock Island, enjoy the beauty of the island and take a charter boat to Barren Island from there. Since the trip takes almost an entire day, all your meals and beverages during the trip are offered on the boat itself.
What cost of making a Barren Island volcano visit?
The cost of making a Barren Island volcano visit is around INR 130,000-150,000. The price is for a package that includes an entire day of sailing, food, and fun activities near Barren Island. Some charter boat trips also include short stops at other islands. The fishing and snorkelling gear will also be covered within the charter boat cost.
You may also need a tourist permit to go to the volcanic island. For Indian nationals, the cost of the permit is INR 1000 while foreign nationals have to pay INR 3500 for the same permit.
When should you make a Barren Island tour?
The best time to go for a Barren Island volcano visit is from November to February. This is because the weather in the archipelago is perfect and pleasant during this period. Most tourist travel to the Andamans around this time. October, March and early parts of April also attract some crowds. However, the weather does get a bit hot and humid around this time.
From May onwards and until September, the weather in the Andamans is not conducive for travel. This is because the frequency of rains increases around this time and there are also many unpredictable storms. This makes doing any sort of water activity risky. Also, your diving centre or charter boat agency can cancel your trip if there are any indications of the weather becoming bad.