California is a beautiful state full of scenic beaches. One of my most memorable trips with my mom was cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway, looking out at the amazing view of the beach and Pacific Ocean. Metal detecting in California is a great hobby and a fun way to get outdoors and enjoy the picturesque West Coast.
My family and I are planning a trip to the west coast within the next year and are planning to take our metal detectors to scour the beaches. We hope to visit each of these best beaches to explore with a metal detector and come home with some buried treasure!
Here are the best beaches to metal detect in California
1. Santa Monica State Beach – Lots of tourists equals lots of treasure!
Santa Monica State Beach is a popular tourist destination just west of Downtown Los Angeles. The beach is 3.5 miles long with soft, sandy beaches. It is within walking distance to many hotels, shops, and restaurants, and is home to the iconic Santa Monica Pier. Any location with a lot of people is bound to be great for finding lost items in the sand such as coins and jewelry.
Where to Metal Detect on Santa Monica State Beach
The north side of the Santa Monica Pier is a wonderful place to metal detect. The beach is separated from the city by the palisades and the Pacific Coast Highway. Bridges, walkways, and stairs provide access to the beach from the city. The North Beach Playground and Annenberg Community Beach House areas are both beautiful places to find lost treasures.
Santa Monica Pier, another choice detecting location, features an amusement park, shopping, restaurants, and an aquarium. This area is always populated and therefore you have a better chance of finding lost treasures!
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2. Malibu Lagoon State Beach – Home of modern surf culture
Malibu Lagoon State Beach is located where Malibu Creek ends at the Pacific Ocean. The creek pools to form Malibu Lagoon. This location was one of the first places where modern surf culture developed. Popular with both tourists and locals alike, the traffic in and out of this beach give metal detectorists many opportunities to find dropped coins, jewelry, and other metal items.
Where to Metal Detect in Malibu Lagoon State Beach
- Surfrider Beach starts at the lagoon and continues to Malibu Pier. There is a parking area and the Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum. This area is popular with locals and tourists alike, so you will have a good chance of finding dropped loot.
- Malibu Pier, to the east, is a popular spot for fishing and has many restaurants. Picnic tables, nature trails, and bird watching are common activities here.
- Head east along the coastline to find Malibu Beach, another great spot to metal detect.
Metal Detecting Tip: Try metal detecting with headphones. Headphones make it easier to hear faint signals and can help block noise from outside sources. This can help you find more treasure! Read about more tips in this article. https://metaldetectingtips.com/metal-detecting-tips/
3. Red Rock Beach – Remote beach with great detecting opportunities!
Red Rock Beach is just south of Stinson Beach, California. Be advised this is a clothing optional beach. Trail access is steep, and the area is quite remote. There are no services, so bring all you will need for the day. Red Rock Beach is part of Tamalpais State Park. After reaching the shoreline, head north past some large boulders.
This is the widest and nicest part of the beach. During high tide, the sands will be wet and winter storms can take the sand away, revealing a rocky shore. Hot springs seep up in the sand near the large rocks south of the trail during low tides.
Where to Metal Detect on Red Rock Beach
- The tides change the beach quite a bit, so you may want to detect during high and low tides. Make sure you are being safe during high tides. Check tide charts prior to heading out.
- During the winter, you will find the beach different than the summertime. The rocky shoreline in the winter will uncover treasures that the sands had previously hidden.
- Because the beach is clothing optional, you will likely find treasures near the hot springs, where bathers go to relax.
4. Ten Mile Beach – Colder weather, great beachcombing!
Ten Mile Beach is a long stretch of coastline at the Inglenook Fen Ten Mile Dunes Preserve in MacKerricher State Park. The beach is about 4 miles long, starting at the northern end of Main Beach and continuing to Ten Mile Creek south of Seaside Beach. Vast dunes nearly a mile wide run between these 2 points.
Where to Metal Detect on Ten Mile Beach
- The Dunes are a protected habitat, so these areas will be off limits to detectorists.
- Detect on the sands along the coastline. This area is colder than southern California, so there will not be as many swimmers. Check areas where people walk and sit.
- Check near and in the parking lot on the south end of the beach at Ward Avenue.
- There is another parking area off Highway 1 at Ten Mile River Bridge.
Metal Detecting Tip: California is a GOLDMINE for metal detectorist. I’ve got a couple other articles pointing you to the best places. Check out this article ->7 Best Places to Metal Detect in CA and where to go in northern California – HERE
5. Rockaway Beach – Popular beach to find dropped coins and jewelry
Rockaway Beach is a popular location in Pacifica, California. Hotels and restaurants dot the area net to the beach, and many hiking trails wind through the area. This makes Rockaway Beach a fantastic spot to metal detect!
Where to Metal Detect on Rockaway Beach
- Hiking trails on the rocky point south of the beach and Mori Point are great for finding dropped treasures.
- A paved path runs north and south behind the beach and is popular with runners, walkers, and cyclists. Anywhere people walk and bike, you have a good chance of finding dropped jewelry and coins.
- Surfers and anglers frequent the area, so search near the water’s edge for dropped items.
6. Venice Beach – Italian inspired, detectorists approved!
Venice Beach runs along Santa Monica’s south side on the Pacific Coast Highway. Venice was developed as a Los Angeles beach resort featuring canals, piazzas, bridges, a lagoon, and colonnaded business district. The beachfront boardwalk is full of jugglers, musicians, mimes, and other street performers. Locals and tourists alike frequent the area making it great for finding dropped items! Muscle Beach Gym and the Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail are on Venice Beach, giving metal detectorists more opportunities to find lost treasures!
Metal Detecting Tip: Use a pinpointer. Pinpointers are handheld metal detectors that make finding the exact location of a metal object quicker and easier. Using one on the beach can help you dig less and more accurately find your targets. Read more about tips in this article. https://metaldetectingtips.com/metal-detecting-tips/
7. Treasure Island Beach – No pirates here!
Treasure Island Beach is a wonderful place for snorkeling and exploring hidden coves. On the southern end, you will find a ramp leading to the sand. The beach extends to Aliso creek to the south. To the north, there are large rock outcroppings that block the waves, making great snorkeling areas. Middle Man’s Cove is farther north and is a more hidden beach. Metal detectorists have a fantastic opportunity to find hidden and dropped treasures along Treasure Island Beach.
Metal Detecting Laws for California
According to the California Bureau of Land Management, you can metal detect on BLM property, but may not remove artifacts. Discoveries should be reported to the nearest field office. National Parks in California are off limits to detectorists. This is common in most states in the country. If you are even in possession of a metal detector on national park lands can be seen as an offence unless you dismantle and store it properly so it cannot be used immediately.
Metal detecting is not forbidden in many of California’s state parks. You may not disturb any plants, animals, geological features, or archaeological artifacts. You need to seek permission from the park’s district superintendent prior to metal detecting.
You also need to follow federal level laws regarding metal detecting like the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. Find more at https://goneoutdoors.com/california-laws-metal-detectors-6404865.html
Looking for some “How To” metal detecting articles? I’ve got you covered
- Metal Detecting Digging Tools – Tells you all about shovels, scoops and how to dig a plug.
- Where are the Best Places for a Beginner to Metal Detect? – Just like the title says, this article points the beginner to the highest probability places.
- Can You Metal Detect on BLM Land? – So many people have asked me about BLM detecting I had to write this article.
Metal Detecting Clubs in California
- Sacramento Valley Detecting Buffs is based in the Central Valley area of California with members from Sacramento and surrounding cities. Members represent interests from coin shooting, jewelry hunting, gold prospecting, and relic hunting. Learn more about the club here http://www.sacramentovalleydetectingbuffs.com/
- Mount Diablo Metal Detecting Club aims to encourage metal detecting to all age groups. They want to promote enjoyment and experience in the metal detecting realm. Read more about the club here http://mdmdc.com/
- Antelope Valley Treasure Hunter’s Society was founded in 1980 and has steadily expanded since then. Members have interests in coin shooting, relic hunting, prospecting, and relic hunting. Learn more here http://www.avtreasurehunters.com/
Metal Detecting Treasures Found in California
Thousands of people swarmed to California during the Gold Rush days. There have been several large treasures found in the state, and many more purported to exist. The Saddle Ridge Hoard consists of 1455 gold coins, mostly $20 pieces, minted between 1847 and 1894 and is worth over $10 million total! A metal detectorist found a 6-pound gold nugget, dubbed the Butte Nugget, in 2014 in Butte County. It sold for approximately $400,000. Learn more about California treasures here https://metaldetectorplanet.com/california-treasures/
Metal Detecting Resources in California
- Metal Detecting Hobby Talk, MDHTALK, is a great resource for metal detecting in California. They provide information on laws, clubs, and metal detecting legalities. Read more here https://www.mdhtalk.org/cf/city-regulation.cfm?st=CA
- TC-RC is a great resource for sorting out the various state laws surrounding metal detecting. Learn more here https://www.tc-rc.com/detecting-state-laws
Metal Detect Stores in California for Expert Advice
- Cal Gold Detectors – https://www.calgolddetectors.com/
- Treasure Hunters Headquarters – http://www.treasurehuntersheadquarters.com/
David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.