Metal Detecting Beach Tips

If you were looking for buried treasure, would you search on an Island that Pirates were shipped wrecked on? The best place to use a Metal Detector just may be the shallows near tidal water.  With the proper tools and techniques can you find treasure in shallow water? What is the best tip for using a metal detector in shallow water on the beach?

  • Pick a popular place to hunt
  • Check the laws
  • Use the right tools
  • After a hit-Use a pointer
  • Use a scoop to dig target.
  • Check hole with detector again before dumping the scoop.
  • If there is no target signal after a few scoops move 90°on each scoop.
  • When the signal stops-The target should be in the scoop

With the right equipment and the right instructions, you can make some finds that you probably walked over a few times not knowing that the ground right under your feet was where you should have been looking all along. 

Best Place to Metal Detect-On The Beach

If you’re worried about losing something in your pockets at the beach on any given day well you have a good reason. People have been losing items like rings, coins, and keys for a hundred years.

The violent surf kicking up the sand and strong current rip up the whole area sometimes where you can’t recognize the place a day after you spent the whole week there.

If you ever had the misfortune of losing a ring swimming off the surf and no matter how clear the ocean is that day, you soon realize it’s a hopeless situation diving underneath the water to try and recover it.

Think about it, a beach in New Jersey like Atlantic City. How many millions of people have visited the beach over the course of a couple of hundred years and have laid on the beach and swam in the surf. How many of those men and women have lost a coin or a ring something of value?

Some people look at this beach and see the sun and fun, some people see fish that they could catch. Some people see gold treasure buried within feet of the surf the same surf that’s been pounding the same beach for two hundred years. It’s kind of a different way of looking at things. I definitely look at life a little differently.


Pulse Induction Metal Detector vs VLF

There are two different types of Waterproof Metal Detectors Technologies today they are:

  • Pulse Induction Metal Detector-Transmit a series of quick electronic pulses into the ground these signals are not affected by wet salt sand or minerals found in the ground. They are highly sensitive to precious metals. They are the best instrument to use on beaches, saltwater, and ocean diving. The Pulse circuit is very deep seeking it has limited discrimination capabilities so you will need to dig more trash items to get to the big prize.
  •  (VLF) Very Low-Frequency Metal Detectors-(VLF)-Typically operate in the 3-30 kHz frequencies and are very sensitive to coins and jewelry. The VLF detectors have the capability to discriminating against junk targets while still finding the good stuff you’re really looking for. Most VLF detectors have a sensitivity control and by adjusting this knob you can minimize ground signals cause by minerals.

Pulse Induction Metal Detector

There are a few companies that make great detectors. You may want a metal detector that will work on land and is waterproof. You can find one here at MyWaterEarth&Sky the Minelab Excalibur II 800 Garden Metal Detector is a great priced detector.  It only weighs about 7-8 lbs. so your not killing yourself lugging around heavy equipment you don’t need.

Garrett AT Pro Metal Detector Bonus Pack with ProPointer AT and Edge Digger that comes with just about everything you’ll need for the big treasure hunt/including a submersible coil-check em out!

You need to make sure the detector alarms when it detects gold and has large enough target ID’s that are easy to read and distinguish apart from each other. The machine should be able to distinguish or discriminate between different targets either set manually or automatically.

You would think they all do but they all don’t. Also, saltwater has a tendency to ruin electronic or electrical equipment so you need a metal detector that will not only be water-proof but will be able to withstand the corrosive nature of saltwater.

A good unit will always have an easy instructional learning curve to operate. I want to find the buried treasure I’m not interested in becoming an engineer or an electronics expert.

You don’t want the sand to be an obstacle either because even though you looking underwater you still are looking under sand too. Black sand typically has an adverse effect on metal detector readouts. Battery life should be comparable and easy to maintain.

The detector needs a harness that comfortable. Headphones are not all waterproof and the chances of you dumping a set in the surf- trust me on this one guy… you’ll drop them. The last thing is depth and that would depend on where you are going to use it. Normally you have to pull your headphones off before you start digging So wireless headphones are a great idea.

Metal Detector Digging Tools


Aluminum Sand Sifter 

The right Shovel is a must and next to the detector is your best tool. Shovels should have root cutters on the side for ground digs and good footpegs for underwater digs and are very strong and reliable. The shovel should be a least 36 inches long and made of tempered steel.

Recovery Tools should have a padded handle and a double edge surrogated blade on both sides. It should be able to attach to your belt for easy access. Made of durable steel.

A Plastic or Aluminum Sand Sifter Scoop is an absolutely necessary tool with no interference and the long handle sand scoop to keep your back from the work should be lightweight and telescopic and easy cleanup tools. 

A Pointer is like this one in the left picture, an added compliment or tool to your detector to help you get into smaller places to pinpoint your area in an exact way and to help locate your target faster with less work. A Pointer that is rugged waterproof and floats. It should have a  flashlight and alarm or vibrate or both. Some have scraper or protective point covers.

A Metal Detector Harness

that will save your arms and shoulder from the weight of the machine even if it lightweight after 3-4 hours your arms won’t feel like rubber. Watch the instructional video on how to use the Harness properly.

Beach Metal Detecting Tips 

Hunting for treasures on the beach or in the surf comes with a few obstacles. The most important consideration is the minerals that you find there. Saltwater and the so-called Hot Rocks that you find there are the necessary evils that you must deal with. saltwater will amplify the normal minerals that you find there causing many land-based detectors to give off false signals. The best unit for the beach is the Pulse Induction Technology (PI) detector, unfortunately, they are a little expensive.

Underwater metal detectors are determined by salt or fresh water and according to how deep you will be diving. This depth rating is different from the depth rating of how deep the alarm signal reads after picking up a target. It will be the diving range of the instrument. In most cases, Pulse Induction(PI) is the better choice of metal detector. Most under detectors come with waterproof headphones.

They are made to turn on and go and cancel out black sand, minerals, and eliminate junk targets to get to what you’re looking for.  The VLF models have nicer displays and can differentiate from audio target identification capabilities but better than the PI models but are more sensitive and require more balancing and tweaking.

If your willing to get a little wet then shallow water treasure hunting with a detector is what you’re looking for. Treasure roll in and out with the tide all in less than 6 feet of water. Most hunters are on the beach in the sand while the divers are out in deeper water.

You can be in the waist-high water zone finding coins jewelry and watches that are moved around by the tide. You can snorkel or scuba on the bottom or cover the area with the tide out in a knee-deep ocean floor. Try it in a pond, river or lake too.

Where Can You Use a Metal Detector Legally

There are 1000’s of miles of coastline along the East coast for Treasure Hunter.

I live on the East Coast shoreline where history covers the entire area and 100’s of miles inland too along the Delaware River. It’s where the Revolutionary and the Civil Wars were fought and hosted in the most historical part of America. There is a law on shallow water Metal Detecting in the Florida Gulf Region called Florida’s State Laws of Antiquities that regulate the taking of old valuables from certain state lands and even the coastal waters. It’s up to you to find out if the County and State you are detecting in has laws against Metal Detecting.



To judge the area of a shoreline or river for any type of treasure use the metal detector for Shallow Water Hunting.  Use the high water mark left by the incoming tide and work back out in the water. Watch this Instructional Video for exactly what to do.

You’ll be using the tide to your advantage. Shallow water hunters should always work in the tide area. Arrive at the beach a few hours before low tide working the area as the tide recedes. This is prime time. Do this right up until the tide comes in again.

Experts say the most productive area is the deepwater areas where people swim at high tide. They also say that wind and storm line vicinity are where items are sometimes deposited all in the same area. So if you do get a signal, mark that area. Because it’s most likely there will be more than one item of the same weight that will wash up together by the tide in the surf or in a high tide line around a river or creek.

  Metal Detecting in Shallow Water

  • In shallow water hunting, after getting a hit
  • Use your scoop to dig your target.
  • But check your hole with your detector again before dumping the scoop. This way you won’t lose track of your target.
  • If there is no target after a few scoops-Move 90 degrees on each consecutive scoop.
  • *When the signal stops the Target should be in the scoop.

The Community Library may be the best place to research an area that may hold historical value and was a popular place at one time. Also, places like Colleges and Historical Societies are reliable.

Because the ocean is so vast and a constant source of movement connected to a shoreline, most people would agree that it is the best place to recover valuables and agree that buried treasure exists there, somewhere and the possibilities are endless.

Tidal Rivers and Beaches that were once a popular place to go by many people long ago could hold large amounts of treasure, those people may have left behind loads of treasure that are now buried in that space covered by mud and sand in the shallow water under your feet.


JimGalloway Author/Editor

 Related Questions:

 Can your metal detect on historic sites? Generally, all state historical sites, state Native American burial grounds, and other state archaeological sites are off-limits to metal detecting.  most states have regulations that determine the legality of metal detecting in their state park system.

 Can your metal detect on federal land?     Metal detector use is allowed in developed campgrounds and picnic areas if they are not specifically closed to such activity. It is permissible to collect coins, but prospecting for gold would be subject to mining laws.

 Can your metal detect in a national forest?  most of the National Forests are open to recreational mineral and rock collecting, gold panning and prospecting using a metal detector. This low impact, casual activity usually does not require any authorization.

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