Situated in the Andaman Sea, Barren Island lies about 138 kilometers (86 mi) northeast of the territory’s capital, Port Blair. Along the chain from Sumatra to Myanmar, it is the only active volcano. Also, it is the only active volcano in India. Popularly known as a submarine emergent volcano, the island is a part of the Indian union territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It lies above the subduction zone of India and the Burmese plate.
If you want to see something extraordinary, then don’t forget to include Barren Island in your travel itinerary. Located in the Andaman Sea, the Barren Volcano is the only confirmed active volcano in South Asia. Also, along a chain of volcanoes from Sumatra to Myanmar, this is the only active volcano. It is located nearly 138 kilometers from Port Blair. If it’s a lucky day and if you are also fortunate enough, then you can see the volcano erupting lava and ash. Its first eruption was recorded in 1787.
Barren Island has again started erupting in 2018. As a result, people from all across the world are coming to the island to witness this unique phenomenon. The island is inhabited by humans. Only a small population of goats, birds, bats, and rats are living under harsh conditions. It is unpeopled and bereft of any significant vegetation.
As Barren Island comes under the restricted zone, you have to take a special permit to visit there. However, no one is allowed to land on the island. No night stay is permitted as well. So you have to plan for an early morning trip to the island. You can start your journey at 3 am or 4 am. It takes nearly four to five hours to reach the island. Tourists travel via ships and get the whole enthralling feeling of the island without even getting down. One can visit the island by chartered boats only with the approval of the forest department and after getting necessary permits as well.
You have to hire a private charter boat to visit Barren Island. You can indulge yourself in sports fishing activity on your way to the island. You can also do snorkeling during the journey. Advanced and experienced scuba divers also go to Barren Island for diving. Expert guides are present with them during this excursion.
How to reach Barren Island?
If you are willing to have a sightseeing tour around the Island, then you can do so by renting boats/ferries/vessels. However, visitors are restricted to land ashore. A seaplane tour from Port Blair can also be opted to look around the island. Getting approval of the forest department and necessary permits are mandatory as this island comes under the restricted zone.
What is there in and around Barren Island?
Barren Island is home to manta rays, interesting basalt formations, the topography of past lava flows, and fast-growing coral gardens. This destination is obviously remote but it is definitely worth your time, efforts, and money. It can be easily accessed by either a live aboard ship or with scuba operators based in Havelock Island (now known as Swaraj Dweep). You can also opt for day tours on private charters. You can also try your hands on fishing and scuba diving that will keep you engaged for around six to eight hours. With the prior permission of the department concerned, the island can be accessed by the visitors.
How expensive is this trip?
As Barren Island is quite remote, you are required to charter a private boat to reach there. Beginning from Havelock Island, this journey will cost you between INR 1,00,000 to 1,50,000 for the entire charter depending upon the boat you are getting. A group of four to eight adults is generally recommended to go for this tour. However, a lesser number of tourists can also do it.
Biodiversity and geography of Barren Island
Barren Island is just three kilometers wide with a two-kilometer- wide caldera. The island is the summit of a volcano that rises about 2,250 meters from the seafloor, with 354 meters above the waterline. Rising from depth, it is the emergent summit of a volcano. The number of bird species and their population has been reduced because of the eruptions. Only six species are observed out of the sixteen previously reported species. The pied imperial pigeon is the most abundant among them.
Is Barren Island safe?
On January 23, 2017, it was in the news that the volcano has erupted in small episodes of about five to ten minutes. There were clouds of ash, and red lava fountains were ejecting from the crater. The hot lava flowed streaming down its slopes. But there is absolutely nothing to worry about as this is nothing new at all when we talk about Barren Island. It is predicted to erupt at least five times over the next 100 years. The first record of the volcano’s eruption dates back to 1787. In the year 1991, there was an eruption and the smoke billowed out for about six months. Since then, there have been eruptions every two-three years. It erupted in February 2016 as well.
All these eruptions lie at the lowest level of the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI). On the basis of the quantity of volcanic material spewed and its strength, the index ranks the volcanoes on a scale from 1-8. The last eruption that took place in 2017 was recorded as a 2 on the index which is much in the safe limits.
Other volcanoes in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Classified as dormant volcano by Geological Survey of India, Narcondam Island in the Andaman and Nicobar Island is a volcanic island. It is famous for its prevalent Narcondam hornbill. The island is declared as a UNESCO world heritage site. Baratang Island in the Andaman Island is popular for mud volcanoes. The volcanoes in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands attract tourists from all over the globe.
Best time to visit Barren Island
Usually, November to February is considered the best time to visit this island. The weather is clear during these months giving a good possibility to see the island and the volcano. The journey to this island is a breathtaking adventurous experience.
If you are in the planning stage of your vacation in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, then contact Andaman Island Travels to make all your bookings. A well-known and trusted tour agency, it is located in Port Blair and is committed to help you in planning the holiday of your dreams as per your budget and requirements. Whether it is your accommodation, any adventure activity that you want to do, or hire a car, it will take care of all your needs in the best way possible.
Things you should know about Barren Island
A remote island in the Andaman Sea, Barren Island is popularly known for housing the only confirmed active volcano in the area of South Asia. It is situated at a distance of 138 kilometers from Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This volcano forms a part of the chain of volcanoes that is found along the belt of Sumatra till Myanmar. In 1787, the first-ever eruption was recorded here.
Barren Island volcano has been known to erupt ten times since its first eruption. Last time, there was an eruption in 2017. The years 1789, 1795, 1803-1804, and 1852 have recorded eruptions. The eruption that took place in 1991 after nearly 50 years of dormancy became the focus of a lot of scientific researches and discussions. The eruption caused a lot of damage to flora and fauna all around as it continued for a few months.
As evident from the name, Barren Island is a barren or deserted area and is not inhabited by human beings. But the island is home to a small-size goat population along with bats, birds, and rodents that have managed to survive in the extremely tough conditions.
As the island is one of the restricted-entry areas of the Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago, you are required to take special permits for visit from the local authorities. Make sure that you procure the permit if you have decided to visit this island. No night stay is permitted there. You have to plan early morning expeditions to the vicinity of the island in boats, chartered cruises and ships and take a look at the island from a distance.
After obtaining the necessary permits and making the needed arrangements, special game fishing activity, snorkeling or scuba diving expeditions can be conducted under the guidance of expert, licensed and trained professionals. These adventurous activities are extremely engaging and may take six to eight hours of your expedition time. So you need to plan everything in advance. Havelock Island-based scuba divers can be engaged to escort you during a Barren Island water exploration trip.
The island vicinity will leave you awestruck by the diversity of flora and fauna. The excursion to this island is definitely going to be worthwhile when you will witness the interesting rock or basaltic formations, the variegated topography caused by the previous lava flows, and the lively coral gardens.
The volcano island was recently in news for being active, spewing a lot of lava and ash. A team of scientists belonging to the National Institute of Oceanography from Goa visited there. These scientists rested all apprehensions calling the fulmination of the volcano to be benign. The short eruptions lasted from five to ten minutes. Ash clouds were spumed in the daytime while red hot lava fountains were ejected from the crater after sunset. Scientists have recovered black pyroclastic material like coal after sampling the sediments. For ascertaining the ecological impact of volcanic activity, repeated scientific expeditions were planned.
Barren Island is nearly three kilometers wide and has a crater measuring two kilometers having walls surrounding it as high as 250-350 meters high. For the last recorded eruption, the Explosivity Index was two on a scale of 1 to 8, which is rather low. The eruption of 1991 reduced the number of animal and bird species as it was proved catastrophic.
You can view Barren Island through an aerial view by embarking on a Sea Plane from Port Blair. The tickets are quite expensive though. The service of these Barren Island Sorties is available on an on-demand basis. Per sortie can accommodate as many as seven passengers. You have to contact Port Blair Ticketing Counter ANIDCO, Havelock Island Controlling Officer, Sea plane Operation or Diglipur Island Controlling Officer, Sea plane Operation for detailed information, ticket booking, and schedules.
If you also want to have the experience of going on this unforgettable journey in the Andaman Islands, then you need a local tour operator who can make all the arrangements for you. The peak season is extremely busy here and availability becomes a major concern. Thus, associate yourself with a reliable tour operator who would make arrangements for everything including flights, stays, transfers, etc. as well.
A reliable company, Andaman Island Travels, offers a diverse variety of holiday packages across the islands that are carefully designed to keep in mind the requirements of its esteemed clients. These packages can be customised also to suit individual preferences. Its experienced team of professionals makes sure that everyone has a gala time. It understands that a vacation should be an extremely memorable time in one’s life and that’s why, the company ensures that all your wishes are fulfilled when it comes to a holiday in the Andaman Islands.
Geographical location of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
An extension group of islands is formed with the island of Andaman and Nicobar. Located in the Bay of Bengal, the capital of the Indian union territory is a small town known as Port Blair. Andaman Island is one of the most remote yet beautiful tourist destinations in the country. It is a perfect vacation place for people who love seclusion or those who seek a little peace and quiet.