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Barren Island Volcano , Andaman Overview

Located about 135 kilometres to the northeast of Port Blair, Barren Island is situated at the intersection of the seismically active Indian and Burmese plates and is 1.8 million years old and is home to the only active volcano in the Indian subcontinent. As the name suggests, the island is largely uninhabited, thanks to the volcano eruptions that take place here at frequent intervals. Although sightseeing around the island is not that common, you can obtain permissions from the local forest department to do so. There are a number of ferries and boats that can take you around to visit the island. However, due to the unpredictability of the volcanic eruptions, visitors are not permitted to land on the shores and are offered a view from the sea, which is quite breathtaking.

The crater of the Barren Island volcano is about half a kilometre away from the shore. The black bedrock of the island lends the sand on the beach a deep purple-black hue that contrasts beautifully with the vibrant blue of the ocean and underwater vibrant marine life. What is interesting is that even though the existence of this volcano is not a hidden fact, and has been known since centuries; owing to little-publicised research with restricted and limited access, the island continues to remain an unexplored mystery.

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Things To Do at Barren Island

On your way to Barren Island, you can indulge in watersports and other activities if you are travelling by a private charter. Also, you can also enjoy snorkelling. The exotic Island is a paradise for advanced scuba divers, who visit the place to enjoy diving and witness the unique underwater life. In fact, the waters that surround the Barren Island are renowned for being one of the world's top scuba diving destinations.

Because of the black bedrock of the island, the unique and dark seabed forms the perfect backdrop for flamboyant and richly coloured corals, sponges and sea anemones to display their exuberance and dash of colour. This is what mainly makes underwater diving here a rich and unforgettable experience. Large marine creatures like manta rays, turtles, and reef sharks can easily be spotted here.

Is it safe to visit the Barren Island?

According to the Volcanic Explosivity Index (an index which ranks the volcanoes from 1 to 8 on the basis of the quantity of volcanic material erupted and its strength), the eruptions at the Barren Island are listed as the lowest and hence, are safe. This means that a visit to the Barren Island is entirely safe.

Barren Island Ferry Timings and Cost

Since the Barren Island comes under the restricted zone, you will need special permits to visit the island. Also, no night stays are allowed on the island, so you have to take a morning trip. It is advisable to start as early as 3:00 AM or 4:00 AM since it will take you about 5 hours to reach the island. Tourists prefer to travel through ships. Even though no one is allowed to get down and set foot on the island, the views while circling the island are amazing.

The schedule and fare to visit the Barren Island are subject to change, depending on the weather and the number of passengers. Due to the absence of any government ferries to take visitors to the island, one has to shell out a lot of money to have a splendid experience at the Barren Island, but the amount spent is totally worth it.

A private ferry will cost you around INR 1,50,000 to INR 2,00,000. This cost is inclusive of all amenities that you will be provided with at the ship, such as an onboard kitchen, washroom, restrooms, and the required fishing and snorkelling gear. This means that you need not carry anything and can expect to get everything at hand.

It is advisable to plan a trip to Barren Island in a group so that it is easy to bear the monetary burden. A group of six to eight adults is recommended to visit the Barren Island and enjoy the tour.

Barren Island Volcano

The volcano on the island has erupted about 8-10 times in the years between 1992 to 2006 and is likely to erupt again. You can also take a seaplane tour from Port Blair to reach Barren Island. The island is just three kilometres wide while the volcano has a two-kilometre-wide caldera. The summit of the volcano rises to about 2,250 metres above the seafloor, however, only 354 metres of it is visible above the water line. The volcano erupted here once in the year 1991 and then again in 1994-1995 after it had remained dormant for over 177 years. The first recorded eruption of the volcano on the Barren island dates back to the year 1787. Nonetheless, a few species can be found here, which includes a small population of goats, birds, bats and rodents.

How To Reach Barren Island

Barren Island is 139 kilometres away from Port Blair by sea. Generally, ships for the Barren Island leave three times a week from the Phoenix Bay Jetty in Port Blair. The island can also be visited with scuba-operators that are based at Havelock Island; or by chartering boats, but only with the permission and approval from the Forest Department, and after obtaining the necessary permits. Please note that it is mandatory for all foreign nationals to be onboard the vessel only. Landing ashore is strictly not allowed.

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