North Carolina has a long history and is a fantastic place for metal detecting! This scenic state has multiple beaches, forests, city parks, and other areas that are perfect for metal detectorists. The state has just over 300 miles of coastline to explore. Not all areas are open to detecting, so always make sure you check with the proper authorities to avoid getting in trouble!
North Carolina does not require permits for metal detecting, so you will not have to bother with any additional steps after you contact the proper authorities. It really pays to do a bit of research on any area you wish to metal detect to keep yourself on the right side of the law.
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If you will be detecting on the beaches, you will want to ensure your metal detector is good in areas with salt water. Salt water is naturally conductive and can really interfere with most regular metal detectors. Some have specific beach settings, and other run on a technology called pulse induction, which negates the effects of salt water.
You will also want to take along a sand scoop for digging on the beach. It is not easy to dig a hole in the sand without it constantly refilling. A good sand scoop will save you energy and time when finding treasures on North Carolina’s beautiful beaches!
1. Topsail Island – Beautiful ocean views and great metal detecting opportunities!
Topsail Island is a 26-mile barrier island within Pender and Onslow counties on the eastern coast of North Carolina. The area consists of Topsail Beach, North Topsail, and Surf City. Serenity Point at the tip of Topsail Island is a great undeveloped beach area perfect for metal detectorists.
While on Topsail Island check out the Intercoastal Waterway. This waterway extends from Boston to Florida. It is a calm sound that is perfect for boating and paddling. Surf City Ocean Pier is a fishing pier with a beautiful view of the beach. Areas like this are perfect for metal detecting for lost items!
Metal Detecting Tips: North Carolina has some amazing beaches. A couple things can make your beach treasure hunting more productive. Try to detect on a line parallel to the water line. Saltwater changes the electromagnetism of objects. Many of the new machines “self balance” so staying parallel minimizes the internal changes to your detector. Find more tip in this article Metal Detecting Tips and Tricks
Where to Metal Detect on Topsail Island
There are a several public access beaches within Topsail Island. North Topsail Beach has 37 public access points, Surf City has 39, and Topsail Beach has 20. The beaches are rarely crowded even during the busy season. Topsail Island is a great place to relax while metal detecting for lost treasures! The Surf City Pier area is a beautiful place for detecting. Any beach area where people tend to congregate has a good chance of having lost items under the sands.
Topsail Island was relatively unknown to metal detectorists prior to Hurricane Florence in 2018. The storm helped move multiple items closer to the surface. A man named Bradley Dixon searched the island’s beaches after the hurricane and found jewelry, coins, and bullets.
2. Carolina Beach – Avoid the State Park, detect on the beach!
Carolina Beach lies near the Carolina Beach State Park. This beach is popular for cruising on four wheelers, shelling, fishing, and swimming. Carolina Beach also offers surf lessons, hiking, and cycling. The seaside boardwalk is home to many food vendors and an arcade. You can rent bicycles along the boardwalk.
As with many beaches in North Carolina, you may not metal detect within the state parks. So, you must avoid the nearby Carolina Beach State Park when metal detecting. Stick to the sandy areas of the beach across from the State Park.
Where to Metal Detect on Carolina Beach
The sandy areas of the beach are the best for metal detecting. Check the areas where people set up towels and relax, typically known as the towel line. You may also check near the edge of the water as the ebb and flow of the ocean is constantly changing the coastline. As mentioned above, do not enter the State Park area with your metal detector or you could find yourself in trouble. Stick to the sandy areas of Carolina Beach.
Metal Detecting Tip: Gold has been an important part of North Carolina since the late 18th century. There are still areas where you can prospect using a pan or your metal detector. Learn more about prospecting in North Carolina here: https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/energy-mineral-and-land-resources/north-carolina-geological-survey/geoscience-education/gold-nc
3. Wrightsville Beach – NC’s most accessible beach
Wrightsville Beach has been dubbed North Carolina’s most accessible beach. It is located just 9 miles from Wilmington and is one of the top surf towns in the world. Wrightsville Beach is a great area for fishing, surfing, sailing, jogging, and wildlife watching on nearby Masonboro Island.
This beach area has great shopping and beach boutiques, surf shops, and an open-air village. Resort amenities are plentiful with spas and dining.
Where to Metal Detect on Wrightsville Beach
As with all beaches, look for the towel line, or the line where people typically set up for the day. These areas are fantastic for finding dropped items. The far north end is a wonderful place to detect. Many detectorists report fining jewelry and coins in this area. Check areas near the parking areas, walking paths, and along the water line.
Get a Beach Sand Scoop as TOUGH as a Shovel
Don’t cheap out on your sand scoop. You’ve got to get a heavy-duty scoop/shovel, why? A cheap scoop is going to hit a rock and bust. Get a sand scoop that is going to last. The CKG Sand Scoop is heavy-duty stainless steel with 7mm holes and a light yet strong carbon fiber handle. 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩
4. Caswell Beach – Quiet beach with great recreation opportunities
Caswell Beach is a scenic and serene beach area home to Oak Island Lighthouse. This is not a populated beach within the Brunswick Islands, so it is the perfect location for relaxation. Caswell Beach has sand dunes and is a great area for fishing. You can kayak in the marsh creeks and the Intercoastal Waterway. During the off season, Caswell Beach allows pets off-leash, so you can bring your four-legged friends with you.
Where to Metal Detect on Caswell Beach
Always stay off the sand dunes on beaches in North Carolina, and all other states. These are typically off limits for any type of activity to keep them safe. Stick to the sandy areas of Caswell Beach and along the surf. Check areas where people have been recreating, fishing areas, walking paths, and near the lighthouse. Check with the authorities to determine if you can detect close to the lighthouse. Some beach areas do not like detectorists near lighthouses.
5. Ocean Isle Beach
Ocean Isle is not crammed with tourist hot spots, so this area is usually quiet and serene. Body boarding, paddle boarding, and fishing are popular on Ocean Isle Beach. The Beach has a pier, grill, and ice cream shop. The best places to metal detect on Ocean Isle Beach are near the pier and the towel line along the sandy area. You can also try shallow water detecting in the surf.
Metal Detecting Tip: Okay, I’m letting the cat out of the bag. The Outer Banks area could be called a detectorist vacation spot. Learn more with this article -> Metal Detecting on the Outer Banks
6. Kitty Hawk
Kitty Hawk’s beach is a public beach popular with locals and tourists. This sandy beach is the perfect spot for metal detecting. There are 266 parking spaces to access the beach, which are also great places to metal detect. People often drop items getting in or out of vehicles. Kitty Hawk asks that you fill all holes dug, which you should do in all locations as a courtesy.
7. Carova Beach
Carova Beach is the northern most Outer Banks community accessible by the unpaved beach. This area is private with clean, white beaches and a few rental homes. Wild mustangs roam the area. No paved roads lead to Carova Beach. Despite its seclusions, visitors flock here in smaller groups annually. You have a chance of finding relics, jewelry, and coins from those who visit the area.
Metal Detecting Tip: Metal detecting in ghost towns is a terrific way to find items from the past. The abandoned Henry River Mill Village in Hildebran is an excellent location for finding lost items, both old and new. Learn more about this unique location here: https://henryrivermillvillage.com/
Metal Detecting Laws for North Carolina
North Carolina, like all states, is governed by federal level laws pertaining to metal detecting. These include the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and the Antiquities Act of 1906. These Act both aim to protect the Nation’s heritage and culture by leaving items of significant historical and cultural value in the ground. If you find such items, they should be reported so archaeologists can investigate.
You should contact the specific town you would like to metal detect in and ask about the rules and regulations for the area. Local ordinances often govern metal detecting on beaches, so contact the propre authorities before you head out. Metal detecting is traditionally allowed in National Forests If you will be detecting in National Forests, you still need to ask the forest supervisor prior to detecting.
Metal Detecting is not allowed in North Carolina State Parks. There is one exception: to find lost property. If you have lost something in a State Park, you can apply for a special use permit to use a metal detector to find the item within the park. Learn more here: https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/environmental-assistance-and-customer-service/z-topic-index/metal-detectors
Metal Detecting Clubs in North Carolina
- U.S. Artifacts Recovery Group is a non-profit organization dedicated to preservation of North Carolina’s history and artifacts. Read more about this club here: https://www.angelfire.com/nc/usaa/index.html
- Old North State Detectorists Club seeks to assist people in finding their lost items at no charge. Learn more here: http://www.onsdclub.com/information
- Triangle Relic Recovery & Historical Preservation Association is a non-profit organization of history buffs seeking to uncover North Carolina’s historical past. Read more about the club here: https://trianglerelic.wixsite.com/trrhp/about
Metal Detecting Treasures Found in North Carolina
As mentioned above, Hurricane Florence tore through North Carolina in 2018. Bradley Dixon, a local metal detectorist, headed out to metal detect following the storm. He has dug up many different items including a gold ring, other jewelry, coins from World War II, and various projectiles. He also found a 27-pound 40 mm shell with his detector. Learn more about North Carolina treasures here: https://www.wect.com/2018/11/14/nc-man-continues-dig-up-historic-treasures-topsail-island-post-florence/
Metal Detecting Resources in North Carolina
- MDHTALK is one of my favorite resources for metal detecting in North Carolina. They offer information about the laws, clubs, and areas where you can metal detect on their site. Learn more here: http://www.mdhtalk.org/cf/city-regulation.cfm?st=NC
- Silver Recyclers is another great website for information about metal detecting in the state of North Caroline. Check them out here: https://www.silverrecyclers.com/blog/metal-detecting-in-north-carolina.aspx
Metal Detector Stores in North Carolina for Expert Advice
- Newport Metal Detectors https://newportmetaldetector.com/
- Barbee Detector Sales http://www.barbeedetectors.com/
- Triangle Detectors http://www.triangledetectors.com/
What do You Need For Beach Metal Detecting?
I’m going to provide an ESSENTIAL beach gear list. Everyone wants to enjoy beach time and dragging a pile of gear to the beach sucks.
- A great multi-frequency metal detector. Different metals react to different frequencies. Having a machine that utilizes multiple frequencies at the same time will greatly improve finding gold and coins. The Best Value is the Nokta Makro Legend check prices and reviews on Amazon with this shortcut link -> Nokta Makro Legend
- A great pinpointer, I’m an absolute believer in wireless tech. For years I would get tangled in my headphone wires. GO WIRELESS the Nokta PulseDive links to the Legend’s wireless headphones. Since it’s built for diving, it’s Heavy Duty. Short cut link to Amazon – Nokta Makro PulseDive
- Get a heavy duty sand scoop, I’ve bought the cheap plastic and metal scoops – NOT GOOD. They usually break within a day. 2+ years later I’m still hammering on my CKG Metal Detecting Sand Scoop <- Link to Amazon
Metal Detecting Tip: Treasure hunting doesn’t mean making a mess, digging holes and destroying historic sites. Use some ethics and preserve history. Sharing pictures and documenting the location and researching the back story is the most important part of finding treasure. Read my article 👉 Metal Detecting Rules, Ethics and Laws
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.