Come holiday season and all of us will get busy making vacation plans. There are so many places to explore in this world but nothing comes close to a beach vacation. And what place than Andaman and Nicobar Island to enjoy your beach vacation? Apart from the beach, the sea and the sun, there are many surprises that the archipelago has in store for anyone who ventures to its many islands.
One of the Andamans' best-kept secrets is Barren Island, a volcanic Island nestled far into the sea. Not many know about it, but Barren Island is the only volcano in India. The area surrounding the island is open to the public to try a variety of fun activities like snorkelling, fishing, and even scuba diving.
What is Barren Island why you should go there?
Barren Island is famous for being an active volcano. Not only is it the only volcano in India, but it is also known for being the only active volcano in South Asia. It lies along a chain of volcanoes that start from Myanmar to Sumatra. Quite fascinating, isn’t it? The Barren Island volcano was first reported to have erupted sometime around the 1700s. It was dormant for a long time after that but then it started erupting again in the early 1990s. The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami also triggered another round of seismic activity on the island. While it is still active now and lets out smoke, it last erupted only in 2017.
Given the fact that it is still an active volcano, the island is uninhabited except for a few feral goats, bats, rodents, and birds. Most parts of the island are barren except for a few stretches of greenery enough to sustain its small population of animals. It is the beaches around the island that will catch your eye. Because of the impact of the volcano, the sand on the beaches around Barren Island is almost black, unlike the rest of the Andamans.
The volcanic impact also makes the underwater territory around the island very rich. A wide variety of marine life glides around Barren Island. The underwater ridges and coral formations are also out of this world. This is why the island makes for an excellent spot for many water-based activities like fishing and snorkelling. Many scuba divers from across the world flock to Barren Island to test their skills in the unique underwater terrain.
How to visit Barren Island
Barren Island is not as easily accessible as the other islands in the Andamans, which are mostly placed close to each other. It takes around 4-5 hours to reach the island from the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Port Blair. As such, passenger ferries do not venture as far as the Barren Island volcano. If you are wondering how to visit Barren Island in that case, the answer is very simple. You can charter a boat. It is very common to get boat charters to Barren Island.
Apart from Port Blair, Charter boats for Barren Island trips are only available from Havelock Island. The volcanic island is closer to Havelock and may take 2-3 hours to reach.
Charter boats accommodate up to 8 people, so it would be a good idea to travel with friends or family.
How long will a trip to Barren Island take?
Barren Island trips are usually day-long, so you should keep an entire day aside if you want to see the majestic island. The trips to and from the island itself can take you more than a couple of hours since on average it takes around 3-4 hours to reach the island alone. Don’t worry about food and lodging as your boat will include all meals and beverages needed for the day. All you have to think about are the amazing activities you’ll be doing on the trip.
How to visit Barren Island: cost of taking the trip
The cost of travelling to Barren Island volcano by boat is around INR 130,000-150,000. This is because the island is only accessible by boat and not by regular passenger ferries. Also, the cost includes the price of all activities like fishing and snorkelling that you’ll be doing on the island. Your meals are also included in the package as is a guide.
You’ll also have to pay for a separate tourist permit needed to visit Barren Island. The cost of the permit is INR 1000 for Indian nationals and INR 3500 for foreign nationals.
Best things to do in Barren Island
Most people go fishing in Barren Island. The area around the island attracts many big and strong game fish and is considered a top spot for game fishing. Snorkelling in Barren Island is also very popular. You don’t have to be experienced in diving or know how to swim to be able to snorkel in Barren Island. That’s why many people who want to explore the marine life on Barren Island love to snorkel. Scuba diving is, unfortunately, not open to everyone at Barren Island. You need to be an experienced scuba diver to be able to dive in the difficult underwater terrain.
How to visit Barren Island: FAQ
1. How can you visit Barren Island?
Answer: Since Barren Island is uninhabited and sits in a remote location, regular passenger ferries do not go there. You’d have to charter a boat to visit the island.
2. What is the cost of visiting Barren Island?
Answer: You may have to spend around INR 130,000 to INR 150,000 to visit Barren Island. There will also be additional costs of getting a tourist permit, but that is not so expensive.
3. What are the top things to do on Barren Island?
Answer: Snorkelling is the most popular activity among tourists going to Barren Island. Many tourists also go to the island to try game fishing. Experienced divers from across the world visit Barren Island to test their scuba diving skills.
4. How much time does it take to reach Barren Island?
Answer: The time depends on your point of starting. If you are travelling from Port Blair, it may take you 4-5 hours to reach Barren Island. From Havelock Island, the journey takes 2-3 hours to complete. In any case, you should plan for a day-long trip.
5. When is the best time to visit Barren Island?
Answer: The period between November to February is the time to travel to Barren Island. October and March are also not bad; although, it may be a bit hot and humid during these months.