There are two beaches in India blessed with the annual visits of nesting Olive Ridley Turtles. The Gahirmata Beach in Orissa and Morjim Beach in Goa (there a few other beaches in Goa where these turtles are sometimes spotted but Morjim is the key spot).
Morjim beach is located in the northern end of Goa, at the mouth of the Chapora river. From the beach, you can see the Chapora fort on top of the hill on the opposite bank.
The Olive Ridley turtles are an endangered species and so their nesting sites at Morjim are protected. Their nesting season used to start in September and end in March-April but of late they have been coming in to nest as late as January. Some environmentalists say it’s because of the increased tourist activity at Morjim. Other’s blame global warming.
If you do get to visit during the time when the hatchlings are released, you’ll love these adorable little ones who can scurry away so fast you’ll wonder whether it is the young one of a slow-moving turtle.
A full-grown Olive Ridley reaches just 2 to 2.5 feet in length and rarely weight above 50 kgs. It’s perhaps the smallest of all sea turtles. It has a unique heart-shaped shell (carapace) with plates (shutes) that can be asymmetrical. They are known to synchronize their nesting and arrive on the beach in large numbers. This is termed as “arribadas.”
If you plan to watch an “arribadas” then one of the best places to stay in Morjim is the Morjim Hermitage, located close to Morjim beach.
Another popular attraction in Morjim is the large numbers of Russian tourists. It’s such a popular spot for Russian tourists that Morjim is often nicknamed “Little Russia.”
Some of the nearby places to visit are Vagator Beach which is at the base of the Chapora fort, on the other side of the Chapora river. On the same side as Morjim, further up north are the beaches of Ashwem, Mandrem, and Arambol. There is also a beautiful Sri Moraji temple nearby.