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Metal Detecting on The Beach - The Best Place to Metal Detect

Metal Detecting on The Beach - The Best Place to Metal Detect

One of my favorite places to metal detect is on a beach.  That may seem obvious as this is most people’s favorite place to be.  But when it comes to metal detecting there are more reasons than the cool ocean breeze, palm trees, and mellifluous sound of the crashing surf.  If you haven’t had a chance to go metal detecting on a beautiful beach, it may be time for a vacation.

Anytime I go on vacation, I try to take a metal detector or prospecting equipment depending on what type of potential treasure is abound at my destination.  When that destination is a beach, I choose a metal detector.

Want to learn more about metal detecting the sand and surf?  Check out this book:

How to Search Sand and Surf: Treasure Recovery at The Beach by Charles Garrett

Why is Beach Metal Detecting the Best?

  1. Ease of Target Recovery – Unless you are on a rocky beach, recovery of targets is much easier than digging in soil.  Although people frequent rocky beaches, they don’t typically hang out there and play around in the sand and surf.  So, stick to sand – the more popular place the better.  Start by searching around the more populated places on the beach such as under cabanas, high traffic areas, and the waters edge. 
  2. People Lose Things at The Beach – When you are hanging out and drinking daiquiris and pina coladas all day you tend to get careless and forgetful. Not to mention if you are in and out of the surf, your hands are likely to expand and contract.  This is often a good recipe for a lost ring. 
  3. Therapeutic Treasure Hunting – If you get up early in the morning, before people start showing up at the beach, you are not going to be bugged by kids or menacing adults that want to ask you a thousand questions or follow you around to see what you find. Rather, at this time of day, the surf is typically calmer, there is less breeze, and the peaceful sound of surf on sand is a perfect time to get some treasure therapy. 

What Tools do I Need to Metal Detect a Beach?

Fortunately, there are few tools needed to metal detect a beach.  Below are the basics. 

  1. A Good Metal Detector – Depending on if the beach is freshwater or saltwater, you need a metal detector suited for the terrain. Saltwater can make some metal detectors act very erratic and renders them rather useless in the water and even wet sand.  They will still work okay on the dry sand for the most part.  There is good hunting in both, but you will find some good targets at the edge of the surf.  A good surf metal detector that is both waterproof and able to be ground balanced is the Garrett AT Pro.  I have used this metal detector to hunt beaches very successfully.  Don't be fooled into thinking you need a deep diving metal detector to go into the water.  The Garrett AT Pro mentioned above is waterproof up to 10'.  Unless you are searching for sunken treasure this will most likely be sufficient.  You can use a pin-pointer like the waterproof Garrett Pro Pointer AT (affectionately nicknamed “The Carrot,”) but if you are looking for jewelry, it really isn’t necessary. They can be helpful in the surf and especially if using fully underwater. See the video below to see of me finding a gold ring on the beach:
  2. A Recovery Tool – Although just about any shovel will work to dig a hole in the sand, so will your hand.  Although there are sometime sharp objects buried in the sand like glass or sharp metal.  So, a tool is recommended.  If you use a shovel, it is best you use a plastic one like the one pictured here: 


Instead of a digging tool you might consider some type of sand scoop.  These come in the hand scoop and long handled scoop as pictured below.  Hand scoops come in metal or plastic varieties.  They are a more affordable option than long handled scoops and serve you well on the beach. The long handled will work both in the surf and on the beach and prevent you from having to submerge your head in water or kneel so much as you do with a hand scoop.


  1. A Finds Pouch – A key piece of equipment in any metal detecting hunt.  On the beach you will find a lot of coins.  If you are on a saltwater beach, some will be heavily corroded.  Especially newer coins. But, they are still money, so…  Make sure your finds pouch has a larger pouch for scrap and larger items and an inside zipper pouch for more valuable finds like the one pictured below.

Word to The Wise When Metal Detecting in a Foreign Country

If you are metal detecting in a foreign country that is known for violence or corruption (for example Cancun, Mexico), be careful and watch your back.  We have spoke to people we’ve encountered while metal detecting that detect themselves in these places.  They have told us they have been shook down several times by thugs and police.  Valuable items may want to be placed somewhere it is harder for them to find rather than in your pouch (i.e. inside pocket of swim trunks, shoe, etc.)  This might allow you to throw them off by showing them nothing but junk and corroded coins n your pouch.

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  • Josh Turpin