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BIOGRAPHY / Mark Strickland

Mark’s life-long interest in the sea has included over 10,000 dives and careers as lifeguard, boat captain and scuba instructor.

His passion for underwater photography has led him to many top dive locales, including Thailand, where he spent 17 years as Cruise Director on a series of liveaboards.

An avid marine naturalist, Mark has discovered several nudibranch species.

He is co-author and principle photographer for Lonely Planet’s award-winning book, “Diving and Snorkeling Thailand”, and his work appears in many magazines, books and displays around the world. Currently, Mark leads several dive trips each year to his favorite destinations, while working on a career-spanning large-format pictorial book.

CRUISE OVERVIEW

On this trip, learn from professional underwater photographer Mark Strickland as we take you (and your camera) to visit some of the most photogenic dive sites in the world and meet some of the most unusual creatures in the ocean.

Set sail from the port of Maumere, on the eastern side of Flores Island, for a 12-day/11-night cruise, to explore all the famous dive sites of Alor and Flores, ending back at Maumere. Discover the magic of Alor – one of the best kept secrets for diving in paradise.

Alor and Flores offer widespread muck diving, sharks and large schools of fish, WWII wreck dives, untouched reefs and unexplored coral gardens, magnificent soft corals and stunning hard coral formations. Visit all the incredible dive sites of this area, such as Kawula, Lamlera, Pantair Strait, Palau Komba and more.

Start out diving at Adonara Island, east of Flores, with juvenile harlequin sweetlips, barramundi cod, ribbon eels and numerous nudibranchs. At the west end of the dive site there are ledges extending along the sea floor with blue spotted stingrays, white tip reef sharks and sweetlips sheltering underneath. The eastern part is home to the ‘holy grail’ of fish, the rhinopia, we have found the weedy and paddle-flap scorpion fish here.

Then it’s on to the Kawula area for world class muck diving. Look out for the allusive rhinopias camouflaged in the coral slope, as well as brown banded bamboo sharks, helmut flying gurnards, frogfish, wonderpuss and blue ring octopus, plus different kinds of ghost pipefish including the very rare halemeda ghost pipefish.

Relax as we cruise to Lamlera, where the scenery is breathtaking and reminiscent of another era with palm-fringed bays, lush greenery and the volcano acting as an imposing backdrop for the village’s colourful bustling local markets. The diving here rivals the panoramic topside view as there are a series of underwater seamounts full of cracks and crevices to be explored. The area presents a healthy balanced ecosystem with highways of fish being patrolled by others higher up the food chain mixed with schools of surgeons, bumphead parrotfish and turtles.
As you explore sites around the Pantar Strait, get your camera ready for the famous Pura Island villagers splashing out of their wooden dugout canoes and diving underwater with home-made goggles fashioned from wood and glass bottles.

Travel on to Palau Komba, the volcano known locally as the fire-breathing monster living in the middle of the ocean. It actually erupts every 5-20 minutes which means that you are sure to see the awe-inspiring sight of molten lava creeping down the mountainside and flowing into the sea. Like a mythical dragon, you will also hear periodic thunderous booms as clouds of dust are blasted out from deep inside the island.

Typically, the average temperature range in the Alor and Flores area is around 26-28+ (78-82F+) so usually a 3-5mm wetsuit is fine. For repetitive diving days you may start to notice the cooler thermoclines more than usual, so prefer to wear a slightly thicker wetsuit and/or a hood, but usually 5mm is sufficient. We don’t recommend gloves as this can encourage divers to touch corals or delicate reef areas, but for night dives, where you could be more likely to bump into fire coral etc (or the 2 days of diving in south Komodo), many divers do prefer earning a full length suit and hood/gloves.

BEST OF BORNEO & WEST SULAWESI 26 Jun-7 Jul 2026