I am a traveler/backpacker, writer/editor, amateur photographer, yoga enthusiast, and music aficionado living and working in Mumbai, India. Read about my travels in India and elsewhere at https://nomadicrhythms.wordpress.com/
Update April 13th 2014
These adorable little hatchlings can be seen making their way to the ocean every year around March-April at Velas. So if you haven't yet seen this amazing creatures beginning their lives, this is your chance!
Come watch Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings released to sea
Velas, a quaint little coastal village a few hours' drive from Mumbai, is one of the many hidden beaches in Maharashtra, India. It is a sleepy little village with a few shops, small uneven roads, traditional houses and a long, narrow quiet beach. The beach is lined by woods and a freshwater stream, surrounded by hills.
Why Velas Other than for empty, long, picturesque beaches, this beach is popular for being one of the few nesting sites of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles in India. Every year, this beach sees a number of adult female Olive Ridleys coming ashore, heavy with eggs ready to be laid, onto the shores of Velas.
This year saw 17 nests, all successfully relocated to a safe enclosure managed by conservationists and alert locals, some as young as 9. The eggs take 55-60 days to hatch, hatching taking place at dawn and dusk. For about 3-4 months every year, from February to April/May, hatchlings are released to sea almost every day!
And if turtles are not your thing, there is more! Other than turtles, this place is home to a number of eagles, vultures and other rare birds. Sitting on the beach or on top of the surrounding hills, there is a good chance you will see a few of these majestic creatures fly right by you or see them by the shore looking for crabs and other small prey.
Where to stay There are no hotels or guest houses for tourists, only home-stays. The locals are extremely friendly and welcoming, providing travelers with bedding, fresh water and local home-cooked vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare at extremely affordable rates. If you don't know the local language, Marathi, it can be a bit of a task communicating with locals, only some of who understand bits of Hindi; almost no one knows English, except for some of the conservationists.
How to get there Velas is about 220 kilometers from Mumbai, 80km off the main Mumbai-Goa Highway (NH 17), and going along SH-70. You can either go in your own vehicle, or take state transport buses that also go twice a day. If you wish to go by train, the nearest train station is Khed, also about 80 kilometers away, from where you have to take state transport buses or auto rickshaws to get to the beach. Whatever mode of transport you may choose, you will take a good 5-6 hours at least to get to the beach from Mumbai city and suburbs.
There are also a number of groups that organize trips to Velas in these hatching months, if you prefer going in a group rather than alone. These group trips are usually done over weekends so more people can join in.
The long, sometimes bumpy, ride is totally worth every minute of it when you get to see the hatchlings waddling off to sea minutes after hatching and crawling out of their nests!