Marine Park Tour Operators in Australia are questioning the exclusion of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia by travel guide Lonely Planet. At the same time, some groups are questioning the inclusion of smaller dive sites in the list.
"When you talk to serious divers, the Great Barrier Reef is on everyone's bucket list, so it's ridiculous there's not one site mentioned ... There are diving experiences you can have on the Barrier Reef that you can't do anywhere else in the world," The Herald Sun quoted Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators Executive Director Col McKenzie.
He cited the Yongala wreck near Townsville, Osprey Reef off Cape York and the Acropolis near Lizard Island as better sites compared to Cocklebiddy Cave in Australia and Rainbow Warrior wreck in New Zealand which made it 9th and 10th on Lonely Planet's list.
However, Lonely Planet spokesman Adam Bennett admitted the list is open to debate and did not intend to downgrade the Great Barrier Reef.
"The list was not intended to be definitive, but rather a representative selection of diving sites from all around the world. It was selected by our online editorial team in London and designed to inspire a global audience," he said, adding that in past editions, the travel guide, recently sold by BBC to an American firm, had recommended the Barrier Reef to readers.
Here are Lonely Planet's top 10 dive spots:
1. Great Blue Hole - Belize
2. Chuuk Lagoon - Micronesia
3. Manta Ray Village - Hawaii
4. Samarai Island - Papua New Guinea
5. Pulau - Sipadan
6. Cocos Island - Costa Rica
7. Gansbaai - South Africa
8. Ras Mohammad - National Park, Egypt
9. Cocklebiddy Cave - Australia
10. Rainbow Warrior wreck - New Zealand.
If it is of any consolation to the tour operators who are pushing the Great Barrier Reef, the Australian Traveller Magazine named the activity of swimming with minke whales on the Great Barrier Reef as one of the most Incredible Travel Secrets in Australia.
The dwarf minke whales are observed to visit the northern part of the reef during the winter months due to the warmer, tropical water and to mate and give birth. During this period, they often interact with humans and vessels which could involve one up to 30 whales and last for several hours.
The best time to catch the minke whales is from mid-July to December when the mammals finish their northern migration by taking the all-day boats at Port Douglas.