“I was fortunate to have encountered a humpback whale with her calf on my first day snorkeling near Japan’s Kumejima Island. Most of the time, the calf stayed close to her mom. At one point, the calf began jumping and tapping its tail on the water near us—it was very friendly and curious. Finally, the mother, who was watching nearby, came to pick up the calf and swim away. I fell in love completely with the calf and its very energetic, large, and beautiful tail.”

Grand prize winner: Mermaid

“I was fortunate to have encountered a humpback whale with her calf on my first day snorkeling near Japan’s Kumejima Island. Most of the time, the calf stayed close to her mom. At one point, the calf began jumping and tapping its tail on the water near us—it was very friendly and curious. Finally, the mother, who was watching nearby, came to pick up the calf and swim away. I fell in love completely with the calf and its very energetic, large, and beautiful tail.”
Photograph and caption by Reiko Takahashi, 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

2018 Travel Photographer of the Year Contest Winners

Judges reviewed thousands of entries to winnow out these breathtaking images.

A whale tail, a vibrant urban scene, and a tender moment in Mongolia are among the photo entries that won top prizes in the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest. Judges reviewed thousands of entries before selecting the finalists.

Browse this gallery of winners to experience the unique moments these photographers shared, then visit our contest homepage to explore even more breathtaking images.

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