Grab a metal detector and hit the beach in style

By Daniel Bernzweig

Why do metal detecting hobbyists flock to the beach? It’s not just to uphold the popular image of the guy with headphones scanning his detector along the shoreline. It’s the real promise that gold and silver await the person who searches with a metal detector. There’s an old saying that goes, “If you hang out at the barber shop long enough, you’re going to get a haircut.” The same concept applies to beaches and metal detectors. If you spend enough time on a beach with a metal detector, you’re bound to find gold rings and jewelry. And with the skyrocketing price of gold, this is a tempting hobby—if not a career change!

Another interesting concept: experts report that Mother Nature seems to deposit objects of similar weight in the same area along a beach’s high water mark. So, when a detectorist uncovers one gold ring, there are quite possibly more targets within a small radius. According to a CNN article about beach detecting, one hobbyist cashes in a few weeks’ worth of gold finds for $1,300. The article suggests starting with popular tourist beaches when treasure hunting for gold and valuables. Beaches in Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, Florida; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Venice Beach and La Jolla Beach, California are just a few upscale high traffic beaches. In South Beach Miami, Florida, beachgoers are seen wearing flashy and expensive jewelry and watches. These are the same items that get lost in the sand and surf. Sometimes, items can be returned to their rightful owners; in most cases, it’s simply impossible to do.

Intrigued? Read on to learn basic beach hunting techniques as well as which metal detectors are best suited for the beach.

Beach Hunting Techniques

To maximize their finds, most beach detectorists walk slowly along the beach, steadily swinging their search coil from side to side. It is important to work methodically in a planned pattern. You can even grid the beach to ensure that every square inch is covered. Gridding involves walking parallel to the water; then, stepping one to two feet aside and working your way back. Your coil should slightly overlap on each trip. In a highly productive area, you can even mark your grid by dragging your scoop in the sand. Remember—the slower you swing your search coil, the deeper it will pick up signals. Most coils have a search pattern that is cone shaped. Depending on the power of your metal detector, you may be searching with a 10-inch diameter near the surface, but only a 2-inch diameter at maximum depth. This is why you will find trash and shallow coins before hitting on deeper buried gold targets. Experts recommend that beach hunters dig all targets in order to reach the real treasure. You are essentially clearing the area of shallow targets before discovering gold signals. Be sure to read our related article entitled “Underwater Metal Detectors - Reviewing the Best Options.”

Finding Good Beach Sites for Treasure Hunting

Popular tourist-type beaches will yield more gold and silver treasure than quiet or private beaches. However, busy swimming spots from years ago may no longer even look the same due to erosion or other changes. Lost beaches can be hunted profitably if there are still items to uncover. Seashore development has also diminished former beaches, but treasure lost there will remain until a lucky detectorist stumbles upon it. You may find an unusual pocket of treasure where people aren’t known to congregate. Sometimes natural erosion caused by tides and surf causes objects to redeposit. This is a good reason to keep an open mind and trust your instincts. If something tells you to hunt in an inconspicuous space, check it out! Other places to search are around beach trails, walkways, boardwalks and concession stands. Take any opportunity to scan the base of seawalls because treasure often washes up and gets trapped there. Don’t forget to utilize maps and resources from the library. Look for little known beaches or old maps that will direct you to now abandoned swimming destinations. Be sure to read our related article entitled “What are the Best Beach Metal Detectors for Metal Detecting on the Beach.”

Which Metal Detectors are Used for Beach Hunting?

The question to ask before buying a metal detector for beach hunting is which type of water surrounds your local beaches—salt or fresh water? There are detectors ideal for the freshwater beach; yet another variation handles the mineralization of saltwater more effectively. If you plan to try your hand detecting while wading in shallow water, then an underwater detector may be a better overall investment. So, it will serve you well to figure out where most of your treasure hunting will take place.

VLF or (Very Low Frequency) detectors are affordable models that work best on fresh water or on the dry beach. They can be used on saltwater beaches but they tend to react to salt and produce false signals when the search coil touches wet ocean sand. Many VLF models are adaptable to saltwater beaches because they feature a ground balance adjustment. Some detectors, like the Garrett AT Pro, have very sophisticated electronics which display the type of treasure you’ve found. This digital LCD screen has a target identification meter that displays dimes, quarters, gold, foil, etc. This saves you a lot of time digging. Typically, underwater machines are not available with this feature.

If you live near the ocean and will be hunting saltwater beaches, you may be better off with a Pulse Induction or (PI) detector. PI models are designed to ignore salt and get down to really deep targets. In fact, these detectors are the deepest seeking models on the market. However, they cannot discriminate iron and junk without losing gold and other valuables. Some detectors are water resistant—allowing only the coil to be submerged and others are entirely waterproof and submersible. Be sure to do a side-by-side comparison of various models and check off the specifications you’re looking for. Here are a few of our suggestions for beach hunting metal detectors.

VLF (Very Low Frequency) Metal Detectors

Pulse Induction (PI) Metal Detectors

A Happy New Treasure Hunter

If you visit the “My Metal Detecting Finds” section of our web site, you’ll read some exciting accounts of treasures found throughout the world with a metal detector. Hobbyists submit true stories and photos of their metal detecting finds—then readers vote on their favorite stories. Armando was eager to get to the beach with his brand new Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector. On his first 2 days treasure hunting a beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Armando found gold, fancy earrings, a watch and various coins. Just like Armando says in his story, we are more than happy to speak to you on the phone and help you determine which metal detector is best for your needs. At, we want to play a key role in your discovery and love of the rewarding hobby of beach detecting!

© 2014 Detector Electronics Corp.

100% Price Guarantee

Our No-Haggle, Best-Price Guarantee on Metal Detectors The same low pricing for everyone! Whether you’re a metal-detecting expert or novice, we keep it simple. We offer the lowest advertised pricing allowed by contract with each manufacturer. The personalized service you receive from our experienced team is our added bonus. That's what we are all about. Rest assured, you will not find a better value online.