When I look back at it, I think 2019 was a really good year for me for both travel and travel photography. I was extremely blessed to visit some truly breathtaking countries and capture what I think are some really quality photographs. As has become my tradition, at the beginning of each January I like to share with you what I believe are my best photographs from the year before. These are photographs that I am extremely proud of and very excited to share with you. I hope they inspire you to travel as much as other photographs that I have seen have inspired me to explore.
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My Top 25 Travel Photos of 2018
Before I start sharing my top photographs from 2019, I wanted to look back at retrospect I did last year for my top photographs in 2018. Among other places, I was able to travel to Peru and Ecuador that year and was able to capture some breathtaking photographs of places like Machu Picchu and the Galápagos Islands. If you would like to see my top photographs from 2018, I have included a link to that post of mine below for you to review.
|My Top 25 Travel Photos of 2018|
Santa Barbara, California
My travel year began with a trip to California in January to visit my brother who moved to the state to volunteer for a seal rescue program. I had been to California plenty of times in my life, but this was my first time traveling to the Santa Barbara area. I was blown away by the beauty of the city and the coastline. This image was taken of the coastline during an especially pretty sunset that we enjoyed.
Elephant Seal Vista Point, California
While I was in Santa Barbara, we took a drive up the coast to see one of the largest northern elephant seal rookeries in California. At the Elephant Seal Vista Point, we saw thousands of elephant seals resting on the beach. Many of the seals were young seals that had been born recently and were getting their first taste of life. I love this photograph because it shows just how many seals occupy this beach during the birthing season and just how big these seals can get.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
I was blessed to see some really amazing things when I was in California last year, but one of my favorite stops was undoubtedly Joshua Tree National Park. Those of you who follow my blog closely know that I am a national parks enthusiast and Joshua Tree National Park is a park that I have wanted to visit for quite some time. Not only because the park shares my name, but also because it is a beautiful park that is world renown for its hiking trails and rock climbing routes. I love this picture that I took in the park because I think it really showcases the beautiful and iconic Joshua Trees that are found in droves within the park.
Door County, Wisconsin
There are many beautiful areas near me in the Midwest United States and I was fortunate enough to visit one of the prettiest of these areas last spring when we visited Door County in the state of Wisconsin. Door County is a Great Lakes region that is known for its beautiful shoreline, wild cherry-picking, beautiful state parks, and fun outdoor activities. On our last night in Door County, I was able to snap this beautiful sunset shot of Anderson’s Dock in the town of Ephraim, Wisconsin. It is a tradition for anyone who gets out on the water in Ephraim to sign their name on the barn on the dock when they return. The barn is full of painted signatures, which was really cool to see and photograph.
Porcupine Mountains State Park, Michigan
While touring the Great Lakes Region of the Upper Midwest United States, I also had the pleasure of visiting the Porcupine Mountains State Park, which sits in the state of Michigan’s Upper Penninsula along the coast of Lake Superior. This beautiful state park reminded me of Acadia National Park in the state of Maine because it has the same type of mountainous coastline, rugged hiking trails, and picturesque vistas. I love this picture of Lake of the Clouds because I think it really shows how hilly, rugged, and breathtaking the terrain in Porcupine Mountains State Park is.
Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
Arguably my favorite stop along the coast of Lake Superior this past summer was my stop at the Apostle Islands in Northern Wisconsin. I have long wanted to take a kayaking tour of the coastline of the Apostle Islands and this past summer I made that dream a reality. We took a roughly 7-mile kayaking trip along the coast starting in Sand Bay and explored the many sea caves and tunnels that have formed along the rocky coastline.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
One of the most popular places to visit in America’s Great Lakes Region is Mackinac Island, which sits in Lake Huron, just off the coast of the state of Michigan’s Upper Penninsula. What was once used as a fortified military post during the 19th Century is now a popular tourist getaway retreat. Visitors are able to go on horsebound carriage rides, enjoy freshly made taffy and fudge, tour the old fortifications, and take a walk around the picturesque island on one of the many hiking and biking trails. No cars are allowed on the island, so it is a great place to get away from the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life. I love this picture of Arch Rock because it showcases the natural beauty of the island and reminds me of the peace and tranquility I felt when I visited.
Upper Penninsula, Michigan
On my way to the Porcupine Mountains, I stopped off at a number of places along the coast of Michigan’s Upper Penninsula to take pictures of Lake Superior. This sunset shot that I took is one of my favorite sunset pictures of all time. The reflection of the sun off the calm waters of Lake Superior really warms up the entire shot and shows you just how beautiful this area of the United States is.
Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
The year 2019 was a big year for national park enthusiasts as the United States added two national parks to its collection of protected parklands. One of these new parks is located a short drive south of my house in the Milwaukee area, so I decided to pay the park a visit over the summer. Indiana Dunes National and State Parks has long been a popular summertime spot for people in northwest Indiana and southeastern Illinois, as the parks have some of the most spectacular lakeside dunes you will find in North America.
In fact, these large sand dunes are so big that they actually look like giant hills that backdrop the beautiful beaches in the park. I love this picture of Indiana Dunes because it shows the magnitude of the sand dunes, the beauty of the park beaches, and the close proximity of the parks to the big city of Chicago all in one shot.
Wild Koala – Kennet River, Australia
With the bush fires raging in Australia right now, it broke my heart to include this picture in my top photographs for 2019. Not because I don’t like this picture of a wild Koala in Kennet River, Australia, because I love it, but because it reminds me of all of the wildlife that has died in the fires. It was so amazing to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat and it breaks my heart to know that they have become even more endangered because of the fires in Australia right now.
Skydiving – Wanaka, New Zealand
One of the best adventures I have ever been on while traveling was undoubtedly my skydiving adventure in Wanaka, New Zealand. Not only was the experience of going skydiving an unbelievable experience, but doing it for the first time in New Zealand was absolutely perfect. I cannot imagine a more beautiful location to take my first skydive than on New Zealand’s South Island. I guess that is why I absolutely love this picture. It reminds me of just how epic that skydiving experience was for me.
The Twelve Apostles, Australia
One of the most stunning landscapes that we saw while we were in Australia was the Twelve Apostles in the Twelve Apostles Marine Park in Southern Australia. Located just south of the Port Campbell National Park along Australia’s infamous Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles are a series of limestone stacks that sit just offshore. This is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline that I have seen in all of my travels, not just in Australia. I love this picture because it perfectly reflects the beauty and ruggedness of the Twelve Apostles and this beautiful area of Australia.
Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia
There are so many beautiful landmarks in the city of Sydney, Australia that it is tough to pick a favorite. One of the most popular and beautiful of the landmarks is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This bridge is infamous throughout the world because of its beauty and I love this shot of the bridge because it is such a unique vantage point. We ended up climbing the Harbour Bridge while we were in Syndey, but we did so in heavy sleet, so the pictures we had taken on top of the bridge didn’t turn out very well. However, this shot that I was able to take shortly after our climb when the rain and sleet subsided turned out perfectly.
Queenstown, New Zealand
There aren’t enough great things that I can say about Queenstown, New Zealand. After visiting this past year, I am absolutely in love with this city. It has everything and stands for everything that I love in this world. The town is centered around outdoor activities and as the adventure capital of the world, there is a seemingly endless number of adventure excursions that you can go on from Queenstown. I love this picture from the top of the Gondola in Queenstown because it shows just how beautiful this city is and just how amazing the area is for outdoor activities.
Sydney Opera House, Australia
The other major landmark in the city of Sydney, Australia that we really enjoyed photographing while in Australia was the Sydney Opera House. As you can see in this shot that I took while we were on a harbor cruise, the Sydney Opera House is an absolutely beautiful building. It was really rainy and cold most of the time we were in Sydney, so we decided to watch a show in the opera house. We went to see West Side Story and the show was amazing. This photo will always remind me of our time in Sydney and our visit to the opera house.
Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand
We got to see some breathtaking national parks while in New Zealand and one of the most beautiful that we saw was Aoraki\Mount Cook National Park. The park had some of the most fantastic hiking tracks that we explored while in New Zealand and the views were nothing short of stunning. I love this photograph because it shows just how small we were in this vast and beautiful park. This was taken while we were hiking the Hooker Valley Track near the Lake Müller Lookout. It was one of the most beautiful views I saw while in New Zealand.
Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand
This photo that I took of the road entering the park with Mount Cook in the background is another photograph that I took in Aoraki\Mount Cook National Park that I absolutely love. This straight stretch of road entering the park is a very popular photo spot that I highlighted in my Photography Planning for Aoraki/Mount Cook, South Island. In fact, this spot is so popular that we had to actually wait for others to finish taking their photographs before I could snap this shot.
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island, and especially Milford Sound, is something that every traveler should see in their lifetime. The vastness and the beauty of this place is something that you need to see with your own eyes to truly appreciate. I love this shot that I got of a tour boat approaching one of Milford Sound’s many waterfalls because it shows just how huge the waterfalls are. This waterfall is taller than Niagara Falls and it is only one of many that empty into Milford Sound from the surrounding mountains. We were lucky to have visited during a break in about a week of straight rain because we got to see the waterfalls at full capacity. It is an experience I will never forget.
Loch Ard Gorge, Australia
Another location along the Great Ocean Road in Port Campbell National Park that we absolutely loved was Loch Ard Gorge. Like the Twelve Apostles, this stretch of coastline was some of the most beautiful that I have ever seen in my travels. I love this picture because it shows just how stunning the shoreline is and how beautiful the landscapes along the Great Ocean Road are.
The Wanaka Tree, New Zealand
There are few trees in this world that are as well-known globally as the Wanaka Tree on New Zealand’s South Island. When we visited, the tree looked a little worse-for-wear because the water level of Lake Wanaka was down and the tree was reachable from the shore. Typically the tree is completely submerged in the water and difficult to access, but with it being accessible from the shore people were climbing all over it to take pictures. I love this picture because it was taken right at sunset and showcases how beautiful the tree and Lake Wanaka are.
Church of the Good Shepherd, New Zealand
I have seen some stunning beautiful churches in my travels throughout the world, but I don’t think I have seen a church in a more beautiful setting than the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo on New Zealand’s South Island. This small, stone church is absolutely beautiful in its own right, but it is jaw-droppingly beautiful when you see it along the shoreline of the stunning Lake Tekapo. I got up really early one morning to photograph the church at sunrise and I love how the church glows in this sunrise shot of the church.
Kawarau Gorge, New Zealand
On our way from Mount Cook National Park to Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island, we stopped at the Kawarau Gorge to take some pictures of the old gold mine and to admire the stunning beauty of this river gorge. I love this picture because it is so typical of how beautiful the landscape on New Zealand’s South Island is. It seems like there is something beautiful to explore around every corner.
The Isthmus Peak Track, New Zealand
Out of all of the hikes we did while we were in New Zealand, the Isthmus Peak Track was by far my favorite. We initially wanted to hike the Roy’s Peak Track, but it was closed for lambing season when we visited. From my pre-trip research, I learned that the Isthmus Peak Track is as beautiful as Roy’s Peak Track, and it really did not disappoint. The views on the way up to the peak are breathtaking, but once you get high enough to see the lakes on both sides of the peak it will take your breath away. I love this shot because it perfectly illustrates how beautiful this hike was.
The Gibson Steps, Australia
The Gibson Steps are located right near the Twelve Apostles at Port Campbell National Park in Southern Australia and are a group of steps that allow you to get down onto the beach along this beautiful stretch of coastline. Although the access to the beach was closed when we visited because of rough waters, the views were still amazing. I love this photograph because it shows just how beautiful the coastline is at this spot.
Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike, New Zealand
One of the most exciting travel adventures that I have ever gone on was the helicopter hike that we did on Franz Josef Glacier on New Zealand’s South Island. We took a helicopter from the town of Franz Josef up onto the glacier where an expedition team was waiting for us. We were able to climb in-and-among glacier crevasses, seracs, and ice tunnels on the glacier and admire its majestic beauty. I love this picture of us ascending up onto the glacier because it shows both the beauty and the magnitude of the glacier.
Franz Josef Glacier Valley, New Zealand
On our helicopter ride up to Franz Josef Glacier for our hike, we got to see some of the most amazing views of the Franz Josef Glacier valley. I love this photograph because it shows how huge and expansive this landscape is. I only wish our helicopter ride was a little bit longer because the views of the valley and the glacier from the helicopter were nothing short of stunning.
Carrick Winery, New Zealand
In the middle of all our adventures on New Zealand’s South Island, we took a day to relax a bit and tour some of the beautiful wineries and vineyards in the Central Otago Valley (it is actually a collection of valleys) wine region. I love this beautiful shot of Carrick Winery because it is set in one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen a winery located. The rolling hills, beautiful lake, and rows of grapevines was a splendid sight to see. I only wish we could have toured more of the area and sampled even more of the amazing wine.
The city of Cairns in Australia’s tropical north is one of the most popular gateways to the Great Barrier Reef, which is why we made a stop in the city during our trip to Australia. with its beautiful coastline, breathtaking reefs, and lush rainforests, the state of Queenstown is a must-visit when visiting Australia. I love this shot of Queenstown at sunset as it shows just how peaceful and beautiful this tropical city is.
The Bondi to Coogee Beach Walk, Australia
One of the most popular beaches in Australia, if not the entire world, is Bondi Beach in Sydney. If you visit Bondi Beach, one of the most popular activities to do around the beach area is to walk the path between Bondi and Coogee Beaches. This infamous beach walk takes you along some of the most beautiful of Australia’s coastlines. I love this picture of the Bondi to Coogee Beach Walk because it showcases the rocky shoreline that makes this walk so popular.
Bondi Beach, Australia
In addition to doing the beach walk, if you visit Bondi Beach, I recommend that you spend some time at the beach itself as well. I love this shot of Bondi Beach because it shows just how beautiful this beach is. With soft, white sand, a steady supply of surfable waves, and beautiful blue water, it isn’t difficult to see why Bondi is so popular.