Scuba divers heading out to a remote location east of Andaman in the Indian Ocean may discover an enlightening experience - only 67 nautical miles from Port Blair.
This section lists the best areas for scuba diving and snorkeling at Barren Island and which marine species inhabit this area near an active volcano.
Many of the best diving destinations near Andaman Islands are in the south, including Havelock and Port Blair.
In general, you should expect to have good underwater visibility. In fact, the water clarity extends to forty metres (130 feet) during the optimum months for diving.
So, when is the best time to dive in the Andaman Islands? The peak season for scuba diving starts around the end of October and runs all the way through to May.
Having a tropical climate means the sea temperature is warm for most of the year, averaging 28° Celsius (about 82° Fahrenheit).
Note: The climate during the first half of the year is mostly sunny and hot with calm flat seas. But, it may be best to avoid the area when the May monsoons arrive - even though diving is still available at some selected sites.
Marine biodiversity, and vibrant colourful reefs, are the main reasons why we added Barren Island dive locations to our list of best scuba diving destinations in India.
Some of the amazing sea life creatures and animals that divers and snorkelers may find in the area include:
Pro Tip: Join the liveaboard trips from Port Blair and you will find the white sandy beaches and pristine coral reefs of Barren Island (around 124 kilometres to the east).
It is rare to find a stony labyrinth of chiselled rock underwater that resembles a column formation. Yet, the "gallery arena" creates a stunning backdrop for divers who make it to the deeper sections.
Typical features and frequent sightings of marine life at the Auditorium and Gallery dive site include:
This step-like auditorium boasts an abundance of fish life and natural, intact coral growth. Beginners should enjoy the shallows around seven (7) metres. Even so, this site drops down to thirty (30) metres for those with more experience.
A wall, and the nearby stone structures, are the notable features marking the landscape at this location. As a result, the fish life and coral formations are plentiful.
The top of the reef starts around eight (8) metres and works its way down beyond fifteen (15) metres at the bottom.
Some of the outstanding features and frequent sightings of marine life at Barren Garden dive site include:
You might consider yourself as being unlucky if you don't see mantas gliding overhead in the blue (it's also known as the washing machine dive site).
One other distinctive characteristic is the sea fans spreading out perpendicular to the prevailing current. They are optimising the process for trapping plankton for food, as well as catching stronger rays of sunlight.
This is one of the shallowest (and sheltered) dives sites at Barren Island and one where you'll find rich coral growth - almost everywhere you look.
With maximum depths averaging two (2) to seven (7) metres, remarkable features and frequent sightings found at Coral Paradise dive site include:
Being the only 'confirmed' active volcano in the Indian subcontinent, it should come as no surprise that you can see the unique black sand beach of Barren Island as you enter and exit the water.
Despite being prone to strong swells and surge, this location is popular with beginners and divers with some limited experience.
The depths range from seven to twenty metres and there is a scattering of mini-marine ecosystems covering the whole area.
Some of the outstanding features and frequent sightings of marine life at Manta Bay dive site include:
If you enjoy scuba diving at night-time, look out for the critters that become active as the sun falls, such as crabs and lobsters.
Pro Tip: Some of the recommended experience and scuba certification levels for this dive site include the Scuba Discovery Program, Open Water Diver, Underwater Videography Specialist, and PADI® Advanced Freediver.
A journey to this dive site is one that offers clear views of the volcano's peak - puffing out smoke. You may also catch a glimpse of the lava flow running down into the sea - before it turns into a black reef.
With maximum depths ranging from seven (7) down to thirty (30) metres, some of the frequent sightings found at Manta Point dive site include:
The main reason for diving here is the underwater structure that looks like a cathedral. You can find it near the entrance of a submerged cave around four (4) metres below the surface.
Take a closer look and you should see patches of multicoloured fluorescent coral on large boulders. Typical features and frequent sightings of marine life at the Purple Haze dive site include:
There are more locations for divers of all certification levels to explore when scuba diving in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, including:
Note: Another section explains more about passive interaction with marine animals and the importance of diving safely around hazardous sea life.