For a long time now, Delaware has had my favorite east coast beaches to go treasure hunting on with my metal detector. I’ve found tons of coins and a couple pieces of jewelry, one summer I even found a mercury dime from 1930 while on vacation! Every time I’m in Delaware I can’t help but visit at least a couple of the places on this list, I look at it just like leaving money on the table in a business deal if I were to not at least give it a try.
For Delaware firsts are a big deal. I mean they are quite literally known as the first state because they were the first to ratify the constitution! And certainly, Delaware is always first in my mind when it comes to great east coast beaches on which to bust out my sand scoop and metal detector.
1. Delaware Seashore State Park
This park covers 2,825-acres of Atlantic Ocean beachfront that millions of people visit every year. Luckily, as one of the few state parks in Delaware that is located on the coast, metal detecting is fully permitted in the park as long as it is east of the dune line. Metal detecting is not permitted in Delaware state parks that are not ocean beaches.
Briefly known as Indian River State Park from 1965 until 1967; the Delaware Seashore State Park is a strip of land between the Rehoboth and Indian River Bay’s and the Atlantic Ocean. In 1981 the southern portion of the park broke off and became Fenwick Island State Park, another wonderful Delaware state park featured on this list.
This beach, along with most in this area, is a hotspot for tourists and visitors from the state alike. Foot-traffic, and the various valuables that it brings to the beach, is therefore well established in the area. If you’re looking for coins, rings, earrings, and the like—this state park is certainly worth your time.
I’m frequently asked what machine I use and recommend. No doubt about it, for the beginner get the Nokta Makro Simplex + Kit it’s the best. 100% waterproof, wireless headphones and pinpointer. Check prices and reviews with quick links below.
The next thing you need is a great shovel, believe me when I say you’ll dig more knowing you can dig FASTER. Links below to the nearly bullet proof Lesche T- Handle Shovel
Metal Detecting and Beaches are a perfect match. Sunshine easy digging and lots of people means dropped coins and jewelry. To search a beach affectively you’ve GOT TO HAVE A SAND SCOOP. CKG Sand Scoops are heavy duty and able to use as a shovel.
If it’s time up UP YOUR GAME and get the industry standard metal detector. The Minelab Equinox 800 IS THE BEST. Okay it’s not cheap, but your finds are going to increase with this machine. Shortcut links for reviews and current prices.
Map to Metal Detect in Delaware Seashore State Park
Find out more about essential metal detecting gear with these articles
2. Fenwick Island State Park – A Favorite Shoreline for Metal Detecting
As I mentioned above, Fenwick Island State Park used to be a part of the Delaware Seashore State Park although the two divided in 1981. This park is the more southern, and much smaller, of the pair. It encompasses 344-acres of beach with a shore on both sides. It rests in between the Little Assawoman Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
Fenwick Island is named after Thomas Fenwick a planter who migrated to the thirteen colonies from York, England, and although he never lived on Fenwick Island, he was an important government official in the Sussex County government.
Legend tells of Fenwick swimming ashore to the island after being stranded from his vessel due to pirates, however, this is most likely untrue. Fenwick’s future son-in-law did however go on to fulfill this legend as he was stranded in the sea by pirates and swam ashore to Fenwick Island where he would go on to live with his wife, Fenwick’s daughter, Mary.
Like the nearby Delaware Seashore State Park, Fenwick Island State Park gets millions of visitors every year, although with this added history of known pirate activity around the beach, Fenwick Island presents itself as an especially unique location for relic hunters who are hoping to find that one thing left behind for centuries. Just imagine what you and your metal detector could unearth!
Map to Fenwick Island State Park for Metal Detecting
3. Cape Henlopen State Park – Lots to Land to Sweep (with respect)
Although Cape Henlopen didn’t become a declared state park until 1964 it was set aside all the way back in 1682 by William Penn, the founder of the colony of Pennsylvania and an early leader in the colony of Delaware, for use by the public of Lewes and Sussex Counties. In fact, Cape Henlopen was one of the very first public use parcels in the Thirteen Colonies. Since independence the area was mostly used as a strategic military location due to the historic lighthouse and eventual military bases that the government built in the location.
The lighthouse now rests in the depths of the ocean after it fell into the water in 1926, although the beach remains. The state park is a 5,193-acre peninsula in the Harbor of Refuge in between the Delaware Bay to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The peninsula is located at the most northern portion of the eastern oceanfront of the state in which the majority of the beaches on this list are located. And, just like those other beaches, Cape Henlopen enjoys the patronage of millions of visitors every year.
As the location of a former military base which has been of great import in all of the wars the United States has been involved in up to World War 2, a location of known pirate activity in the past, and a hotspot for tourism and local visitation Cape Henlopen State Park is without a doubt one of the most interesting places to metal detect in Delaware.
Map to Cape Henlopen State Park for Metal Detecting
4. Rehoboth Beach – Coastline History
Although this beach is not a part of a state park it is still open to the public as it is managed by the city of Rehoboth Beach. In line between Cape Henlopen State Park and Delaware Seashore State Park, Rehoboth Beach is one of the many Delaware Beaches which have been ranked to have the best water quality out of any of the thirty U.S. states with coastline.
When the first Europeans made it to Delaware the coastline was home to several native tribes including the Lenape, the Sikkonese, the Assateagues, and the Nanticoke. In fact, Rehoboth Beach may very well have been the site of the most important native fishing village on the Middle Atlantic coast. The evidence of such a village has been mostly destroyed due to development, but just think of what you may still be able to find!
The beach and its boardwalk have been in the same place for nearly two centuries now and overtime the beach has garnered more and more attention every year. Millions of people visit the beach every year, leaving behind relics of their own, treasures just waiting to be found.
Map to Rehoboth Beach for Metal Detecting
5. Dewey Beach – Gold Earing Find!
South of Rehoboth beach, but still north of Delaware Seashore State Park, Dewey beach is a mile long—two blocks wide—portion of ocean frontage on the cusp of some of the cleanest waters in the world. Tens of thousands of people visit the beach every day in the summertime amounting to millions of visitors every year in total.
I remember this beach as my favorite of the non-state park beaches in the area simply because it was where I found my first gold earring in the state of Delaware. The excitement I felt when I heard that hit, and the sense of wonder I experienced when I saw that my metal detectors screen said it was gold, is something I will remember for the rest of my life.
The beach, as well as the community, is named after Admiral George Dewey who became a national hero following the Battle of Manilla in the Spanish-American War.
Map to Dewey Beach for Metal Detecting
6. Bethany Beach – Millions of People Dropping $$
Of the beaches on this particular portion of Delaware coastline Bethany Beach, along with South Bethany and Fenwick Island, is known locally as ‘The Quiet Resorts’. They still get the same number of visitors every year, a number that is in the millions, although during the morning and late afternoon they tend to be less busy than some of the other beaches in the area.
I like to visit this beach after searching on the more northern Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, and Delaware Seashore State Park, because these two stretches of coast or separated by a bridge. Once I’m finished on Bethany Beach, I continue my way south to South Bethany and eventually Fenwick Island State Park.
7. South Bethany Beach – A Quiet Place to Scan
Unlike Bethany Beach to the north and Fenwick Island to the south, South Bethany Beach is bordered almost exclusively by residential homes. However, luckily for us treasure hunters, it is still open to the public. Consequently, of the ‘quiet beaches’ I have found South Bethany to be the quietest of them all. You may be missing out on the benefits that tons of constant foot-traffic have to offer, but if you like to keep a low profile and have room to breathe then this is the beach for you.
You’ve got to read three articles to help on any Metal Detecting Outing
41 Metal Detecting Tips and Tricks use these tips to improve how much treasure you’ll find.
A Complete Guide to Underwater Metal Detecting is a complete guide for techniques and instruction.
Metal Detecting Digging Tools having the right shovels and scoops is an absolute MUST.
8. Slaughter Beach – Neat History for the Metal Detector
Northeast of Cape Henlopen, Slaughter Beach is another stunning coastline butting up to the Delaware Bay. The name of the town, and consequently the beach itself, has three competing origin stories. One story says it was named after a well-liked local postmaster William Slaughter, another story says the name refers to the horseshoe crabs that wash up on the shore and die after reproducing every year. However, the most contested and scandalous of the stories tells a tale of a man named Brabant who slaughters several indigenous inhabitants by cannon.
One thing I can say is that the town and beach are much more welcoming than the name might suggest. In fact, compared to the millions of visitors that the more southern beaches get, Slaughter Beach is much more of a small-town hospitality experience. How many towns of just 200 people have a public beach open to visitation from anyone in the entire country?
If you’d like more articles about metal detecting check out the links below.
- 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.
9. Broadkill Beach – Crowds Mean Coins
South of Slaughter Beach, North of Cape Henlopen, and bordering the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge on the west, the Broadkill Beach is located on one of the best pieces of land in the Delaware Bay area. In fact, it’s so great that it is the official sanctuary for the Horseshoe crab, the state marine animal of Delaware.
The community is mostly vacation homes, so the beach is certainly more crowded in the summer months, although at all times of year the beach is less crowded than the nearby Cape Henlopen due to limited parking in the area. When I can find the parking, I absolutely love the beach for its quiet and peaceful atmosphere. I don’t usually get as many hits on my metal detector when I’m there but that is somewhat offset by the fact that I can stay out there much longer not worrying about the noise and bustle of some of the more popular beaches.
10. The Beaches of the City of Lewes – Two Beaches = Twice the Treasure!
The nickname of Lewes beach is the First Town, the motto being, “the First Town in the First State”. The nickname is well earned as Lewes was in fact the first European settlement in Delaware starting out as a whaling and trading post named Swan Valley. However, that original settlement lasted less than a year before the local Lenape tribe forced the settlers out. The area remained uninhabited by Europeans for nearly thirty years, giving other settlements plenty of time to establish themselves in the interim.
Further separating Lewes Beach from the crowd, the town has not one but two ocean beaches. They are fittingly names Beach 1 and Beach 2. Beach 1 is the main public beach of Lewes and has a metered parking lot, a snack shop, a volleyball court, and much more. Beach 2 is smaller but still has a parking lot and restrooms.
My favorite thing about metal detecting in Lewes Beach is that, because there are two beaches, within just minutes you can go from a busy heavily foot-trafficked environment to a more laid back open one. The two beaches are connected by a strip of sand and can be easily walked between as well in case you don’t want to re-park.
11. City of Dover Parks – Don’t Dig Deep Metal Detecting
If treasure hunting on the beach isn’t your style how about taking a shot at the city parks in Delaware’s capitol city of Dover. There are three parks in Dover: Silver Lake Park, Schutte Park, and Dover Park. Together these parks constitute hundreds of acres of land.
I took the liberty of calling the parks and recreation department since they don’t have metal detecting regulations listed on their website and I was told that metal detecting is allowed although digging is not. This means that you can bring a hand trowel with you and even remove a very small amount of dirt, however you need to return the grass to its original location. And, of course, you can always pick up anything you find directly on the surface of the grass or whatever it may be.
12. Newark Reservoir – Metal Detect Along Paths
Located in the reservoir’s namesake city of Newark, Delaware, the Newark Reservoir is a 317-million-gallon reservoir completed in 2006. Today the reservoir is known for its 1.8-mile paved walking trail around the perimeter and the reservoir which is a well-known location for local recreationists. In-between the path and the reservoir are a border of rocks that people like to sit on while taking in the view of the reservoir, this is where you would be hunting for treasures left behind. The best part? No digging! Just move the rocks with your hands to find what got trapped in-between the cracks.
13. Woodland Beach – A Treasure for Metal Detecting
Woodland Beach markets itself as “Delaware’s Undiscovered Treasure”, although luckily for you, I have found it! The town itself is a small coastal community along the Delaware Bay, but the beach is where my interest lies. It’s a clean beach in a beautiful part of the county—perfect for a morning or evening metal detecting trip! Now, this isn’t a place you could visit day after day, relying on enough people visiting every day to drop something for you to find, but it’s a nice place to visit a couple times a year.
14. New Castle Battery Park – Along the Delaware River
New Castle Battery Park is easily my favorite place to metal detect on the Delaware River. The park isn’t big or particularly special but is has a wonderful little walking trial bordering its thin sandy beach that brings a certain kind of peace that’s hard to come by in the city. Plus, the park does have a couple of fielded areas that are fun to look through once you’ve made a couple of passes on the beach and trail. The benches spread out in the park, many of which give you a great view of the river, are also a welcome addition for those of us who need a rest every once in a while.
15. Private Land – WITH PERMISSION
I like to always put this one on any list I make of the best places to metal detect in a specific area because sometimes private land is simply the best option. It’s best if you happen to own some land, or know someone who owns some land, in the state you want to visit, but not all of us can be so lucky. An alternative is that you can ask people you meet if you could metal detect on their land, and some people might just say yes. I find it helps if you tell them that you’ll split the profits with them if you find something big!
Just remember, it is a crime to be on private land without the permission of the landowner. No matter how run down, or how desolate an area looks, always make sure you are either on public land or that you have the permission from the landowner to be there. No coin, piece of jewelry, or old tool you may find is worth the legal trouble of getting caught.
Metal Detecting Laws in Delaware
- State Parks
According to Delaware Administrative Code: Title 7: 9000: 9200: 9201 Regulations Governing State Parks Section 3.6 and 3.6.1
3.6 Use of metal detectors on lands under the jurisdiction of the Division shall be prohibited except during normal park hours in the following areas:
3.6.1 Ocean beaches east of the dune line.
For more information you can view the regulation here…
- Other Metal Detecting Laws in Delaware
There are no other statewide law or laws restricting or regulating the use of metal detectors, although, all federal regulations still apply.
Delaware Metal Detecting Clubs
- First State Search & Recovery Club (Newark, Delaware) http://www.treasurenet.com/forums/clubs-hunts-delaware/14714-first-state-search-recovery-club-newark.html
- Team Delaware (Blades, Delaware)
- Mason Dixon Treasure Hunter’s Club (Frankford, Delaware) https://www.facebook.com/masondixondiggers/
Favorite Metal Detecting Shops in Delaware
- Eastern Shore Metal Detectors(Seaford, Delaware)
- Hobby Town (Dover, Delaware)