Barren Island in the Andaman Archipelago is the only confirmed active volcano in the entirety of Southern Asia. Home to a number of wonders, Andaman and Nicobar Islands have in their boundary a great treasure in the form of this erupting beauty. Lying on a chain of active volcanoes that run from Sumatra in Indonesia to Myanmar, the Barren Island is located about 140 km from the capital town of Port Blair and is a must visit place during your trip to Andaman.Located on the meeting of the Indian and Burmese tectonic plates, the island is actually almost as old as 2 million years. Formed because of the eruptions of the past, the first ever recorded eruption here dates back to 1787 AD. The Barren Volcano, as it is called, had its last large-scale eruption about a 150 years ago. After about 26 years of being calm, the latest eruption happened in 2017 first, and then again in the year 2018, making it one of the best places to see in Andaman. People from all over the world are traveling to this place to see the red streak of lava flowing from the top of a 2 km wide caldera of the volcano.
Although the place had been discovered way back in time, lack of research and permits for the same, thereof, has made the Barren Island a mysterious place. Not much is known about what really transpires on the ground in Barren Island, because of the aforementioned reason, and because the island is uninhabited. There is little vegetation on the island, with about a few birds, a small population of goats, bats (flying foxes), and some species of rats and other rodents who have learned to adapt to the harsh conditions of the island.
Because of such remoteness and close to zero activities on the ground and in the waters, the place is still in its most pristine conditions. And that is why, the areas around the island, especially the waters are known to be great spots for scuba diving experience in Andaman. If you are wondering what one can find on one of these dives, you can look for the crystal clear visibility, Manta Rays, interesting basalt formations, topography of the past lava flows and fast-growing coral gardens. You can get organizers for Scuba Diving based in Havelock Island, who will bring you out here on their ships for you to explore what can easily be called one of the world’s best diving spots.
Apart from this, the land on the island is a thing of beauty in itself. With an occasional sighting of the goats that live here, you will find black sand beaches in every direction as far as your eye goes. Underwater, this black sand has helped in preparing, nurturing and maintaining the beauty of the corals, sponges, and sea anemones. Standing on the deck of the boat, as you will look at the amazing island, the experience is something that will erupt like a happy shower inside you. Here is a guide that will tell you all you need to know about this heavenly attraction of the Andamans.
If you are planning a trip to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, don't worry we have for you covered. Travelling solo, with family & friends then here is the list of best holiday packages of Andaman Islands and if you are traveling with your loved ones, here is the list of best romantic honeymoon tours of Andaman Islands.
How to Reach Barren Island
Because of the remoteness and being in the middle of the sea, the only ways to reach Barren Island is to either go by sea on a boat or by taking a seaplane. The nearest island inhabited island to Barren Island is Havelock, and that is where you can avail the service of a boat to get here. Located at a distance of about 4 to 5 hours from Havelock.
by boat, you can say that getting here is not as easy as it seems. With the government ferries now prohibited from going to the island, there are few private players who do take small groups to the island on ferries, take about 3 rounds of the periphery and return. The total trip takes about 8 to 10 hours to complete with ample amount of time to spot the beauty and inhabitants of the island. These have fixed dates for departures and can cost anywhere between INR 15,000 to 20,000.
by seaplane from Port Blair, you will get a 50% concession and an aerial view of the Island. If you are lucky, you might even see the mountain fuming from the top.
Planning a trip to Andaman? Don't forget to check out the best things to do in Andaman which will make your trip memorable.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit barren island depends on the purpose of visit to this totally lifeless yet mysteriously beautiful island. For a visit for sightseeing, you can enjoy ferries and boats that take you there all year round, with the only exception being in the times when the seas are not calm. Because the island is a little far away and cut off from the main archipelago, the factor of calm or troubling seas does come into play a lot.
If you are coming to Barren Island for Scuba Diving, the best time is considered to be the months between November and February. You will get clear weather, a brilliant amount of visibility, and quite an active sea life.
Check out the best hotels in Andaman which will offer you a wonderful stay during your trip.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I get to Barren Island?
The Barren Island is located about 140 km from Port Blair and the nearest inhabited island to it is Havelock. The only two ways to arrive here is either by boat or by a seaplane, with the former available from Havelock and the latter taking you to Barren Island from Port Blair.
2. Is barren island an active volcano?
Yes. Barren Island is located on the junction of Indian and Burmese Tectonic plates. It is also located on a chain of volcanoes that runs from Sumatra to Burma. Also, the Barren Volcano is not just the only active volcano in India but is also the only active volcano in entire Southern Asia.
3. How many times has barren island erupted?
The exact number of eruptions cannot be discerned as the volcano is calculated to be about as old as 1.8 million years. However, in the recorded history, the volcano has erupted for a total 10 times, with the first one happening in the year 1787.
4. What type of volcano is Barren Island?
Barren Island is an active type of Stratovolcano. It has an active polygenetic cinder cone with a caldera that is as wide as about 2 km. The walls of the caldera are as high as 250 m to 350 m, with one side opening to the sea. This opening was created due to a major blast sometime in history.
5. Is barren island the only active volcano in India?
Yes, Barren Island is home to not just the only active volcano in India but is also the only active volcano in South Asia.
6. When did Barren Island volcano erupt last?
The last news of an eruption on Barren Island came out in the month of October of the year 2018, giving rise to a steady outflow of lava from the top, making for a great opportunity of tourism in the area.
7. Can we visit Barren Island?
If you want to know whether you can set foot on the island, the answer is no. This is because the government does not issue permits for even researchers to go there, let alone civilians. However, you can take a ferry to the island which will take 3 rounds of the perimeter and bring you back, or take a seaplane for an amazing aerial view.
8. Where is Barren Island located?
Barren Island is located on the easternmost fringes of the Andaman Archipelago and is situated at a distance of about 140 km from the capital of Andaman, Port Blair.
9. What can we expect while visiting Barren Island?
One can expect a lot depending on the purpose of the visit. If you are on a boat or ferry, you will see a most probably smoking mountain with small hills around, some vegetation, black sandy beaches and occasional sightings of the goats who live here. While flying overhead, you will see a wide caldera, most probably a smoking top, and a mesmerizing island. If you are visiting here for Scuba Diving, you will see natural formations of lava flow underwater, manta rays, corals and anemones.
10. Is barren Island dangerous to visit?
Yes, absolutely. Do not forget that this place is home to an active volcano and is as dangerous as it gets. You can watch from a safe distance in your boat, but it is definitely not a good choice to set foot on the island.