Tips for Metal Detecting on the Beach

27 Tips for Metal Detecting on the Beach

Metal detecting on the beach is a great activity for your whole family. You can take in the beautiful scenery while finding some treasures! I have metal detected on both fresh and saltwater beaches and have made a list of tips to make your hunts more successful.

I live in a landlocked state currently, so most of the beach areas I detect are freshwater. Freshwater is much easier to metal detect than saltwater. There are a few tips and tricks to make sure you have a successful metal detecting trip to the beach!

I love metal detecting on the beach
I love metal detecting on the beach

How Is Beach Metal Detecting Different?

Metal detecting on beaches presents many opportunities but also some challenges. You will want to ensure your metal detector is waterproof, or at least has a waterproof search coil. If you are on a saltwater beach, you will want a specific type of metal detector to yield good results. There are also times of year when hunting the beach is the most productive.

Some beaches are more populous than others, so they will likely have more treasures to find. Areas where shipwrecks have happened offshore offer a unique opportunity to find old coins, jewelry, and other artifacts. Ensure you are on a public beach when detecting, and not withing a National Park or State Park, as these have their own regulations for metal detectorists. National Parks typically forbid any metal detecting, while some state parks allow it. Check with your local authorities for all the rules.  

Here is my list of tips to make your beach detecting fun and net you the most types of treasure!

Freshwater Beach Hunting Tips

1. Deep Scanning Metal Detector

Beach sands are constantly shifting and turning. The heavier and often more valuable items are likely deeper in the sand. Items like jewelry and coins tend to sink much deeper than they began. Often, items get trapped in the heavier rock and clay layer beneath the sand. The closer you are to this layer the shallower items will be. Some areas the sand layer will be much deeper, so you will need a detector with good search depth.

Beach cuts are great for metal detecting
Beach cuts are great for metal detecting

2. Use a Waterproof Metal Detector (or the search coil, at least)

Some metal detectors are fully waterproof. Others are water resistant. Most metal detectors come with a waterproof search coil. When beach hunting, I like to use a fully waterproof detector in case it falls into the water. It also allows me to search deeper into the water without fear of ruining my detector. Nearly all metal detector manufacturers make models that are fully waterproof and submersible up to a certain depth.

Metal detectors that are rated for shallower submersion are great for river, stream, and shallow lake hunting. Other metal detectors are rated for depths up to 250 feet!

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

Saltwater Beach Hunting Tips

3. Read Your Manual!

This tip is not the most fun on the list. However, it is the single more important tip. Knowing how your detector operates, the different settings, and how to properly adjust the machine will get you better results with less frustration. One tip I always tell people is to test your metal detector at home. Find items made of various types of metal and place them in your yard or wave them over your metal detector search coil. This will help you know what your detector reads and the sounds it makes when it finds different metal types.

If you cannot find your metal detector manual, you can search online for a digital copy. Many manufacturers have these manuals on their website, and you can easily download them for free.

4. Use a Saltwater Metal Detector

Saltwater is naturally conductive. The average metal detector will constantly beep when scanning saltwater because it cannot differentiate between a target and the conductivity of the salt. This will give you false readings and may even overload the metal detector. If this happens, it must be shut off and restarted. It is best in saltwater areas to use a metal detector that is either pulse induction (more on that in a moment) or has a specified beach setting built into it.

One of my favorite saltwater metal detectors is the Minelab CTX 3030. This detector is waterproof up to 10 feet, so it can only be used in shallower waters. It is multiple frequency, has preprogrammed settings for finding jewelry, coins, relics, and for beach hunting. It has a full color LCD display with backlight, 10 customizable search modes, and great discrimination.

Learn more about the Minelab CTX 3030 here:

👉Hey David here the guy behind this website. Check Out My Favorite Metal Detecting Equipment Below 👍 Recommended

Nokta Ultra
Nokta Simplex ULTRA 👈 Awesome Machine!

When asked what I recommend, the 👉 Nokta Simplex Ultra stands out. Perfect for beginners, it’s waterproof, includes wireless headphones, and offers five functional modes, growing with your detecting skills.

Lesche T Handle Shovel picture
Lesche T Handle Shovel digs through everything

The next thing you need is a great shovel, believe me when I say you’ll dig more knowing you can dig FASTER. The nearly bullet proof Lesche T- Handle Shovel is the most comfortable heavy duty shovel I’ve ever used.

I love the CKG Sand Scoop for Beach Metal Detecting
I love the CKG Sand Scoop for Beach Metal Detecting

Metal Detecting and Beaches are a perfect match. To search a beach you’ve GOT TO HAVE A SAND SCOOP. CKG Sand Scoops are heavy duty and able to be used as a shovel.

Minelab Equinox 800 amazing Metal Detector
Minelab Equinox 800 amazing metal detector

If it’s time up UP YOUR GAME , 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.

Best Types of Metal Detectors for Beach Hunting

5. Pulse Induction Metal Detectors

Pulse induction, or PI metal detectors, are optimal for saltwater hunting. These detectors have better ground balancing, search deeper, and naturally guard against electromagnetic interference and mineralization. They do cost more, however. 

PI metal detectors send high amp signals using a copper coil that produces electromagnetic fields. As the fields collapse, spikes in voltage occur. These spikes allow the metal detector to find metals in the receiving coil. They are built to withstand high soil mineralization and saltwater. PI detectors are perfect for saltwater beaches, oceans, dry sand, black sand, magnetite and magnetic hot rock areas, and gold prospecting.

6. Beach Specific Metal Detectors

Some manufacturers make metal detectors specific for beach hunting or have settings in all-purpose metal detectors for beaches. There are detectors that are best for dry beach sand and those built for wet beach sand. Dry sand is easier to detect because there is less interference from saltwater or freshwater. Wet sand and water will usually require a more specified metal detector to find good targets.

It is also more labor intensive to search in wet sand and shallow waters. The sand is much heavier when digging and scooping, the tides and currents can push you and your detector around. Metal detectors designed for beginners are usually not friendly to beach detecting. This requires a more specialized machine.

 I currently use the Nokta Simplex +, and it has a specified beach setting that is incredibly helpful in wet sand and salty areas. This is one of the rare beginner to intermediate metal detectors that works well in sandy and salty areas. I use this mostly in dry areas, but the soil here is very mineralized. This metal detector does a great job discriminating against the trashy targets and alerting you to treasure. Read my review of this machine here:

Myrtle Beach where to Metal Detect
Myrtle Beach where to Metal Detect

7. Waterproof Metal Detectors

Making sure your metal detector is a waterproof model is a great idea for beach hunting. This means if you drop it in the water, or find a target out a little farther, your machine will not be ruined. Many detectors are completely waterproof. Each one will have a depth rating. Learn more about waterproof metal detectors here:

There are also metal detectors that are water resistant. These are designed for use in moist environments or in light rain storms. They will not hold out long if fully submerged so be careful if your metal detector is water resistant when beach detecting!

8. Freshwater Metal Detectors

Freshwater has very little effect on metal detectors, so most traditional detectors will work just fine in freshwater settings. As mentioned above, ensure the detector, or at least the coil, is waterproof. Freshwater does not have the conductivity of saltwater, so most metal detectors will be just fine on freshwater beaches.

When I started metal detecting, I used a Fisher F11 detector. I took it to a local freshwater lake and decided to metal detect around the perimeter. I was able to find a couple of coins and several pieces of trash (an unfortunate byproduct of metal detecting: the amount of trash we find!). I have used that detector, and my newer Simplex + near many freshwater bodies of water and have had little to no issues.

Best Tools for Beach Hunting

9. Pinpointer

A pinpointer is indispensable for beach metal detecting as it precisely locates small, buried items in the sand, significantly reducing search time and effort.

I’m really liking the Dr. Otek MT6 Pro, a value packed pinpointer that helps

Pinpointers, like the Dr.Otek MT6, are essential for beach metal detecting, offering both convenience and precision. What I particularly appreciate about the MT6 is its waterproof design, making it perfect for searching in shallow waters and wet sand.

The Dr.Otek MT6 stands out not just for its functionality but also for its affordability. It’s a reliable and cost-effective option, delivering excellent performance at a price point that’s competitive, often lower than many of its rivals. This makes the MT6 an excellent choice for both seasoned treasure hunters and beginners alike.

10. Sand Scoop and Shovel

A sand scoop will cut down your frustration while digging in the sand for treasure. Sand scoops are like small basket with holes cut out. This helps the sand filter out, leaving other objects like coins and jewelry inside the basket. If you will be working in dry sand, this is a game changer!

Check out my article about sand scoops:

I love the CKG Sand Scoop for Beach Metal Detecting
I love the CKG Sand Scoop for Beach Metal Detecting

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. 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

If you are digging in wet sand, you will want a good shovel. The sand scoop will not be effective in wet sand as it cannot filter out of the holes easily like dry sand. In this case, a good shovel is the best bet. As you scoop the wet sand onto the dry beach, you can use your pinpointer or full-sized metal detector to scan the pile and see if your target is out.

11. Finds Pouch

A finds pouch is one of my favorite metal detecting tools. When I first started metal detecting, I used a typical tool belt pouch, like a construction worker would use, to hold my finds. By the time I got home from detecting, my pouch weighed a ton and was full of dirt and sand. I needed to find a better way to hold my treasures!

Many of these pouches have mesh bottoms, which allows sand to filter out while keeping your treasures safely inside. Click here to learn about my favorite metal detecting pouch:

12. Headphones

Headphones are a great way to block external noise while enhancing faint signals. Some metal detecting manufacturers sell waterproof headphones. These are a great option to combine with a waterproof metal detector! Headphones also offer some privacy.

Wearing headphones sweeping a local beach
Wearing headphones sweeping a local beach

If you are metal detecting on a beach that is crowded, headphones will keep your machine’s signals to yourself, and not disturb the beach patrons or draw attention to your hunt. Be mindful of your surroundings when using headphones for safety reasons.

13. Consider Using a Harness

A harness is a great option, especially for pulse induction metal detectors. These tend to be heavier than traditional detectors. A harness can attach at the chest or hip, absorbing most of the detector’s weight. This makes for less arm fatigue and longer hunts!

While it may not sound like a big deal to swing a 5-pound metal detector (some PI machines weight 5+ pounds) for a couple of hours, but after a short time your arms will want to give up. The harness helps this issue and lets you hunt longer.

Strategies for Beach Hunting

14. Grid the Beach

Searching in a grid pattern is the best way to metal detect on a beach. Stay parallel to the water, walk a certain predetermined distance, turn around, step away from the water line a step or two, and continue back the other direction. This makes sure you cover the most ground possible.

When you turn to come in the opposite direction, make sure to overlap the edge of your last search line. This will ensure you cover all the ground in your search grid and do not miss anything.

15. Check Near the Water Line

Finding a quarter right at the water line
Finding a quarter right at the water line

The water line is where the water meets the shore. This is where items washed ashore will be located. Check during low tide to expose more of the wet sand. Be sure to check the tide charts so you know what time low and high tide occur.

16. Check Near Walkways

Walkways are used by most patrons of any beach area. Anywhere people are walking, sitting, or moving items around, you will have the chance to find dropped items like coins and jewelry. As people walk along the paths, they are fidgeting with items, putting things in and out of bags, and so on. This means there is ample opportunity to drop items along these walkways.

17. Check the Towel Line

The towel line is the invisible line where most beachgoers set their items up for the day. Take note of where people congregate along beaches. Once they have gone, check where they were set up. This gives you a great opportunity to find dropped items! When people are packing or unpacking their items or taking off jewelry to put into their bags for safekeeping, they often drop into the sand.

18. Check Near Restrooms and Parking Areas

As with the walkways and towel line, restrooms are parking areas are highly utilized. This means people drop items near these areas. As mentioned above, people are fidgeting with their items in these areas, and they can often drop. They may drop coins while getting in or out of the car or pulling items out of their pockets.

19. Look for Rocky Areas

Rocky areas are natural catches for things that wash ashore or off the beach. Rocky areas hold onto items and disallow the sea water from taking them away from the shore. Check these areas thoroughly and carefully! Be aware these rocks are often slippery, so wear good gripping shoes while metal detecting in these areas.

20. Dig All Targets

Dig every single target you hear on the beach. Some may be trash, but others will be treasure! Think of all the shipwrecks around the coastal areas of the country throughout history. Many of these items have washed inward to the shore and been covered by sand. Most items that wash ashore get stuck in deeper layers of the beach. This is where your sand scoop will come in handy!

Underwater Metal Detecting

21. Know How Deeply Your Detector Can Be Submerged

how deep can a metal detector go
how deep can a metal detector go

Any metal detector that is waterproof will have information in the manual or on the manufacturer’s website about how deeply it can be submerged. As I mentioned, I use the Nokta Simplex +. This detector can go up to 16 feet underwater safely. There are detectors that go much deeper for those who desire.

Learn more about underwater metal detecting here:

22. Consider Scuba Lessons for Deep Dives

Diving is an incredible activity and can really open the oceans and lake bottoms to you. However, it is a good idea to become scuba certified for safety reasons. Deep diving requires knowledge that can help keep you safe and alive. Look for programs in your area if you want to metal detect deeply under water.

23. Use a Deep Diving Detector For Diving

Some metal detectors are specifically made for deep water diving. These machines can handle the pressure that accompanies deep dives while accounting for saltwater interference. As I mentioned, there are notable shipwrecks in many areas. Some of these are off limits or claimed by companies or salvagers.

Be sure you have permission if you are shipwreck diving. If you are just diving recreationally, a metal detector can reveal a whole slew of items buried on the sea floor. Learn more here:

When Is the Best Time to Metal Detect Beaches?

Metal detecting after a storm
Metal detecting after a storm

24. Check after storms

Storms churn up a lot of sand and water. As these push toward shore, the items that were buried out to sea are washed inward. After storms there is notable differences to the coastline. This is a perfect time to get out and metal detect the beach! Be sure no strong storms are predicted while you intend to detect. This can be a dangerous situation. May to November is the typical time for annual storms along the coastline.

25. Check During Low Tides

Low tide exposes more of the beach, as I mentioned previously. As the tide ebbs, the water pulls back. This sand is usually covered in water, so you have a greater chance of finding a target in these areas, especially if others are also detecting on the beach. Most detectorists will stick to the dry sandy areas, so these areas are often untouched.

26. Check during the off season

The off season is where the beaches are less populated. Summer is the peak time for beachgoers. Try metal detecting during the early spring, late fall, and winter if weather permits. As people flock to the beaches to recreate and play over the summer, the many items they undoubtedly drop are lying in wait for someone to find them. The off season affords you this opportunity!

27. Check in the early morning/late afternoon

Early morning and late afternoon are great times to metal detect the beaches. Most patrons are not out early or late, and the beaches will be quiet and pristine. The lower sunlight will help you see any items that may be on the surface. It will also be cooler in the early morning if you are metal detecting in the summer time.

Searching on the beach late in the afternoon - less crowds
Searching on the beach late in the afternoon – less crowds

Making Waves

Beach metal detecting is a great way to get your whole family outdoors and enjoying the natural beauty. Americans alone make over 400 million trips to the beach annually. Even if one tenth of these visitors drop one item, imagine how many things there are to find! You can also hunt for treasures washed ashore from shipwrecks or people losing items at sea.

Always be respectful when metal detecting. Fill in all your holes, do not disturb others while you are metal detecting, and pick up any trash you find. We want to leave the areas we detect cleaner than we found them and ensure we are not hit with more regulations on our hobby!

While metal detecting the beach, you can search for sea shells and sea glass. These are both great souvenirs to take home!

Malory Ericksen discovered metal detecting in 2015, initially unearthing nails and pull tabs in Idaho. The finding of an old railroad tie cemented her passion for the hobby. Now in Utah, she delights in uncovering historical treasures, driven by her love for history.

Read Malory’s complete bio 👉 About Malory Ericksen

Scroll to Top