metal detect florida beach

The 7 Best Beaches in Florida to Metal Detect (And The 3 Best Times to Go)

Now that you have gathered all the tools, you have decided on the wise decision to go beach hunting. With 663 miles of beaches, you have your work cut out for you. Here are the best beaches in Florida to metal detect.

Finding a suitable location can be a bit tiring. Depending on the region you’re located, here are some of the best beaches to metal detect in Florida:

Northern Florida:

  • Emerald Coast
  • Panama City Beach

Central Florida:

  • Daytona Beach Area

South Florida

  • Lee County Beaches

These are just some of the beaches that this article will cover. Not only that but there are restrictions and other hurdles such as permits you will require to go metal detecting. This article will cover that and more. Be sure to keep reading and learn more about beach hunting in Florida.

Finding treasure with a metal detector
Finding treasure with a metal detector

The Best Beaches in Florida to Metal Detect

Beaches are an excellent place to start hunting. Whether you’re hunting for coins or nuggets (please note that you can find primarily find gold nuggets on hillsides), regardless of your experience level, beaches are a great and fun place to start.

Why Are Florida Beaches Considered a Treasure Trove?

The specific area that made Florida into a metal detecting haven is the Treasure Coast. Why is it called the treasure coast? In 1715, eleven Spanish ships known as the Treasure Fleet carried gold and silver, traveling to Spain.

Seven days after they left Cuba, the ships sank from a hurricane. Experts assume that the ships sank near Vero Beach in present-day Florida. Over time, gold coins would wash to shore, and thus, the treasure coast was born.

In 2015, metal detector enthusiasts found $4.5 million worth of gold off Florida’s Atlantic coast. That was just one instance of the results of metal detecting in Florida.

This article will guide you through the best beaches for beach hunting and the laws surrounding them. So, keep reading for more information on beach hunting in Florida.

For a little guidance about the metal detecting laws in Florida, check out these pages from the State website – Is it Prohibited? and

What You Need to Know When Beach Hunting

Beach hunting can come across as similar in some ways. However, there are differences and things to consider before going beach hunting.

  1. Salty water beaches are more problematic than freshwater beaches. Why? Because of the salt. The salt causes a loss of sensitivity. There’s no going around it, and the best metal detectors to handle it are the more high-tier and expensive metal detectors. The best solution to this problem is to reduce the sensitivity of your machine.
  2. You need to know that objects on the sand sink at an incredibly higher rate than on typical soils.
  3. You will need to constantly check your ground balance, more so than on typical soils.
  4. When hunting on ocean soils, experts recommend focusing on cuts. A cut is a sand shelf made as a result of a high watermark. Beach hunting on a cut allows you to find targets that the waves have redeposited as they move back and forth.
  5. On the other hand, with freshwater beaches, you have the issue of heavy mineral deposits. These deposits make your metal detector go haywire, so you’ll need to increase the sensitivity.
  6. Not only that, but there isn’t enough turnover in freshwater beaches compared to saltwater beaches. So, it would be best if you had consistent ground balance and high sensitivity the entire time you’re prospecting.

Nonetheless, do not hike the sensitivity to the point it negatively affects you, the metal detector enthusiast. Ensure that you raise it to a level that you are capable of enduring.

Metal Detecting Tip: If you’d like to find all the good spots in Florida to sweep a metal detector check out this article: 7 Best Places to Metal Detect in Florida

The Top Beaches to Metal Detect in Florida

Florida Beaches Great for Metal Detecting
Florida Beaches Great for Metal Detecting

Now that the history lesson is done and dusted, it’s time to get into the best places for beach hunting. Please note that authorities regulate some of these areas, and it is upon you to conduct research. You don’t want to break the law.

Northern Florida

1.    Emerald Coast

On the map, you can find the Emerald Coast in the North West direction of Florida. The best thing about this beach is that you do not require a permit to go beach hunting with your metal detector.

As long as you adhere to the general ethics set in place and do not go into the water, you should be fine. Another thing the authorities ask is that metal detector enthusiasts stay away from the dunes. Why should you stay off the dunes?

The dunes have plants, and when you walk on the dunes, you destroy the plants holding the dunes together. These plants are essential to the dunes because they stop soil erosion from occurring. No more soil equals no more dunes and ultimately a deteriorating coastline.

2.    Panama City Beach

Authorities permit metal detecting on the beaches, but here are a few restrictions that come with this site:

  • You cannot go to the beach with metal shovels
  • Any holes that you dig should not be wider than two feet

There are 27 miles of beach hunting for you to search, and Trip Advisor named this beach one of the top three beaches. There’s also Shell Island, a Peninsula nearby that you can try out. However, you will have to contact the local authorities and inquire whether you can beach hunt.

3.    Jacksonville

Located on the North East of Jacksonville, metal detecting is allowed on all beaches. There are 22 miles of beaches here, so you have a lot of ground to cover.

Of course, metal detecting in Jacksonville is only allowed on public beaches. You can check out Atlantic Beach or Jacksonville Beach to get started. 

Metal Detecting Tip: The natural progression after beach sweeping is getting wet! Learn how to metal detect in the water with this ARTICLE

Here are some Contact for Beaches Metal Detecting in Northern FL

  • Emerald Coast CVB, Inc./Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council | 850-651-7131
    Metal-detecting is permitted on the beaches, and no permit is required. As always, stay off of the dunes and follow the code of ethics.
  • Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, Inc. | 850-233-5070
    Metal-detecting is permitted on the beaches, and no permit is required. However, no metal shovels are allowed, and no holes bigger than two feet.
  • Visit Pensacola | 850-434-1234
    Metal-detecting is permitted on the beaches. However, be aware of crossing into National Parks, where metal detecting is prohibited, and also military installations, which will have their own regulations.
  • Visit South Walton | 850-267-1216
    Metal-detecting is permitted on public beaches.
  • Visit Gainesville | 352-374-5260, 352 264 6868
    For all intents and purposes, you can’t metal-detect in this area’s county parks. While metal-detecting is technically permitted, you can’t remove an item or disturb the ground, which means you can’t do anything except determine that something might be in the ground.
  • Visit Tallahassee | 850-606-2305
    For all intents and purposes, you can’t metal-detect in this area’s county parks. While metal-detecting is technically permitted, you can’t disturb the ground, which means you can’t dig.
  • Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau | 904-277-4369
    Metal-detecting is permitted on public beaches.
  • Visit Jacksonville | 904-798-9111
    Metal-detecting is permitted on public beaches.
  • St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors & Convention Bureau | 904-829-1711
    Metal-detecting is permitted on all St. Johns County Beaches, but the areas’ visitors services reminds folks it’s not allowed in Anastasia State Park, Fort Matanzas National Park, or the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve.
  • Flagler County Tourism Development Council | 386-437-0106
    There are no restrictions for using a metal detector on the beaches. However, particularly during turtle nesting season, remember to fill in any holes you make.

Central Florida

1.    Daytona Beach

Now that we’ve left the Northern region of Florida, it’s time to head to central Florida. First on the list is Daytona Beach. It’s first on this list because of the ease of accessibility. It’s one hour away from Orlando.

The downside to this beach is that you cannot go beach hunting in the Volusia County Park. The Park does cover some parts of Daytona Beach but not all of it. The parts that the Park doesn’t regulate are free real estate at this point.

2.    St. Petersburg

In 2021 Trip Advisor named this beach the #1 beach in the United States. But how does it fare in terms of metal detecting? When it comes to metal detecting, it’s pretty good.

The local authorities do have one specific rule.

You cannot use any metal detectors if it’s not on the beach. This regulation applies to both private and public beaches. So as long as you keep the beach hunting on the beach, you should be fine.

Check With These Folks for Metal Detecting on Beaches in Central Florida

  • Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater | 727-464-7200
    In Pinellas County Parks the use of metal detectors is prohibited, except on the beach.
    Metal detectors are permitted on Clearwater Beach’s public beaches.
  • Citrus County Visitors and Convention Bureau | 352-628-9305
    Metal-detecting is permitted, and no permit is required. Please don’t leave holes.
  • Ocala/Marion County Visitors & Convention Bureau | 352-291-9169
    Metal-detecting is allowed, but a permit is required. Here’s where you can apply for the permit as well as rules and regulations: www.marioncountyfl.org/home/showdocument?id=11808
  • Visit Orlando | 407-363-5800
    In Orange County, where Orlando is located, metal-detecting is allowed with a permit, but anything you find must be reported to park staff. If whatever you’ve found is a historical artifact, lost or stolen, the staff will confiscate it. 
  • Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism | 321-637-5483
    Metal-detecting is permitted in Brevard County Parks, but not in or near playgrounds or athletic fields, or on endangered lands. Here is a list of parks: www.brevardfl.gov/ParksRecreation
  • Daytona Beach Area CVB | 386-255-0415
    Metal-detecting is permitted on the beaches but not inland in any Volusia County park, which includes Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, and West Volusia.
  • New Smyrna Beach Visitor Bureau | 386-428-1600
    Metal-detecting is permitted on the beaches but not inland in any Volusia County park, which includes Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, and West Volusia.
  • Martin County Convention & Visitors Bureau |772-288-5434
    Metal-detecting is permitted; however, removing natural elements from parks and beaches is prohibited. As always, fill in any holes you create.
  • Indian River County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Division | 770-567-3491
    Metal-detecting is permitted; however, removing natural elements from parks and beaches along with excavations is prohibited. Digging in the sand with anything larger than a small scoop or hand trowel isn’t allowed, and of course, fill in your holes. Visitor are reminded to stay off of the dunes and to never to disturb turtle nests.

Southern Florida

Northern Florida and Central Florida have their charm. However, if you want to invest in your metal detecting hobby, it would be a good idea to check the South of Florida.

Why? Because the majority of the best beaches to metal detect are in the south of Florida. They are also on the treasure coast where the Spanish ships in 1715 sank with chests full of gold and silver.

Here are the best beaches to go beach hunting in Florida:

1.    Vero beach

As shared earlier, the ships that sank in 1715 sank near modern-day Vero Beach. It tends to be a hotspot not only for metal detector enthusiasts but curious tourists and historians. 

Vero Beach Metal detecting
Vero Beach Metal detecting

Occasionally, debris or coins from the ship will wash up along Vero Beach. That’s why Vero Beach is at the top of this list. It’s right next to the underwater wreckage.

2.    Wabasso Beach

A couple of miles north of Vero Beach is Wabasso Beach. Similarly, it also falls on the treasure coastline. What’s interesting about Wabasso Beach is that another ship sank there in 1698. Making it another hot spot for metal detecting.

In February of 2020, a man named Jonah Martinez found a dozen silver coins at Wabasso Beach.

There are other beaches on the treasure coast like:

  • Sebastian Inlet
  • Melbourne Beach

Be sure to check them out for beach hunting and more interesting treasure finds.

Southern Florida Has Some Great Beaches For Metal Detecting – Call First

  • Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau | 941-729-9177
    In Manatee County, which includes Anna Maria Island, metal-detecting is not permitted at preserves and parks. On the beaches, ordinances prohibit digging and removal of objects, which rules out metal-detecting. However, Parks and Recreation say they generally overlook metal-detecting on the beach as long as the operator is practicing good etiquette.
  • Fort Myers – Islands, Beaches and Neighborhoods | 239-338-3500
    Metal-detecting is permitted on Lee County beaches.
  • Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB | 239-252-2384
    In Collier County, metal-detecting is allowed at beach parks, but not inland parks. Here’s a list of their parks: www.colliercountyfl.gov/your-government/divisions-f-r/parks-and-recreation/beaches-and-boats .  Parks and Recreation asks that you follow good metal-detecting etiquette.
    In Everglades National Park, metal detecting or even the possession of a metal detector isn’t permitted.
  • Charlotte Harbor & The Gulf Islands Visitor’s Bureau | 941-743-1900
    Metal-detecting is allowed at Englewood and the area’s public beaches.
  • Visit Sarasota County | 941-955-0991
    Metal-detecting is permitted on Sarasota County beaches, but they note you may not ‘Harmfully disturb or remove from any area, or the waters thereof, any buildings, structures, facilities, cultural resources, including historic and prehistoric, equipment, park property, soil, natural water bottom formation, sand, gravel, rocks, stones, fossils, minerals, plants (including terrestrial, aquatic, marine, or epiphytic plants) or animals, artifacts, or other materials.’
  • Visit Lauderdale | 954-767-2466
    In Broward County parks, digging holes is prohibited, so metal-detecting is by default not permitted.
  • Monroe County Tourist Development Council | 1-800-FLA-KEYS
    Metal-detecting is permitted.
  • Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau | 305-539-3040
    Metal-detecting is not permitted.
  • Discover the Palm Beaches | 800-554-7256
    Metal-detecting is permitted in Palm Beach County. The division of parks stresses that you must leave areas in the same condition that you found them, without holes or disturbance.

Metal Detecting Tip: Learning the “art” of digging makes a detectorist more efficient. Check out this article on The Best Metal Detecting Tools for Digging

The Best Time to Go Beach Hunting with Your Metal Detector

The best time to go beach hunting is after storms like hurricanes. Yes, you could call it the calm after the storm. The excessive wave movement stirs up the ocean floors. This movement exposes and deposits any new material that was sitting there.

Metal detecting experts also recommend beach hunting during the winter. It’s considered an excellent time, most especially after the summer. The summer sands have left the shores, and you have the tides to thank.

Another good time is after a rainstorm. The rain washes out the beaches and exposes the lower levels of the sand. Since the sand level has gone down, you have reduced depth to work with along the coastline.

Are You Interested in What Other Metal-Detector Enthusiast Are Asking? Here Are Some Extremely Helpful FAQs.

1.    Can You Metal Detect the Water in Florida?

Unfortunately, the law does not allow metal detecting in the water. According to the State of Florida, anything submerged in the water belongs to the state. So, by metal detecting in the water, you’re on State property. This law also includes wet beach sand below the high-water line.

2.    Do You Have to Have a Permit to Metal Detect in Florida?

It depends on the beach. Check with your local authorities on the metal detecting requirements. Some beaches need one while others don’t.

Metal Detecting in Florida is legal; however, any actions like stepping on dunes are illegal. It would be best if you kept your hands to yourself. More info about being legal HERE

Always keep in mind that metal detecting SHOULD NEVER be destructive. Preserving and documenting your finds should be the goal. We’ve all got a chance to grow this activity, being an ambassador of good deeds is how we should do it.

Happy Hunting


David-Humphries-Metal-Detecting

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.

Read about David -> HERE

Want to send me a question – contact

Additional Sources

  • Brandon Neice, The Metal Detecting Bible  (Berkley: Ulysses Press, 2021) 128.
  • Florida State Parks, reference Frequently Asked Questions – Link
Scroll to Top