86 miles (138 km.) from Port Blair and Havelock, Barren Island is an adventure-lovers dream destination. The only active volcano in South Asia, it is surrounded by colorful coral reefs, underwater lava flows, and unique basalt rock formations that attract barracuda, manta rays and sea turtles. World-class scuba, snorkeling, and game fishing are a few of the attractions that draw visitors to this remote location.
Most of the massive volcanic island is underwater, rising from the sea floor 6222 feet (1896 meters) before emerging another 1158 feet (354 meters) above sea level to the top of the caldera. Setting foot on the island is not permitted, but depending on current volcanic activity, smoke, ash plumes and lava flows should be clearly visible from offshore.
Over 1.8 million years old and still growing, Barren Island is home to a small population of feral goats left by the British several hundred years ago, as well as birds, bats, and small rodents. The deep waters surrounding the island are teeming with large sea life such as humpback whales, hammerhead sharks, and trevally.
Plan your Barren Island visit far in advance – in addition to potential volcanic activity to this restricted zone, there are multiple steps involved to arrange a private boat or plane, obtain the necessary permits, and set up diving or fishing gear, as well as deal with unpredictable weather and sea conditions.
A day trip to Barren Island from Port Blair or Havelock will take between 2 and 5 hours on the open sea to reach the waters around the island on a local boat charter. In addition, boat charters can be booked that offer overnight stays for possible night viewing of eruptions. Private seaplane flights that circle above the volcano can also be arranged, depending on availability.