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Beach Metal Detecting Guide with Pro Tips

Beach metal detecting is a really fun activity that can end up being a very lucrative hobby. Ever since metal detectors were commercially made people have been using them to comb beaches around the world, looking for lost treasures. And more often than not they find them. Whether it’s old or new coins or gold and silver jewellery, you can uncover some amazing finds when you are beach metal detecting. 

 

In This Guide

Best spots and times to search

Gridding technique 

Dry vs Wet Sand

Pro Tips

Best Type of detector for:

  • Dry Sand
  • Wet Sand
  • Underwater detecting
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    Best Spots For Beach Metal Detecting

    There are several places you should search when metal detecting on the beach:

    The Towel Line

    The Towel line is where people set up camp for the day. It’s where they lay their towels out, set up their sun shades and spend the most of their time on the beach. This is a great spot to find lost coins and items because the towel line is the most populated area on the beach. Coins and other valuables are often dropped or lost in this area and it will show great results when detecting. Be prepared to dig a fair bit of trash like pull tabs, beer lids, foil wrappers etc to get to the good stuff. While this may seem a bit off putting, it is a great way to learn how your detector differentiates good targets from bad and soon enough you will know what you should dig or leave behind.

    Areas of high activity

    When beach metal detecting look for areas where people access or exit the beach, as lots of great finds can be  discovered on or around these spots. People often stop here to adjust their belongings or to scope out a place to spend the day.

    If you are lucky to have shady spots on your beach then definitely detect there. People who are sun smart will flock to these spots and there is a good chance they might have lost some coins or other valuables. Places like under trees and lifeguard towers or other man made structures are a great place to look.

    Below the jetty is another place that will get very busy on a hot day so be sure to check there when you’re out beach metal detecting.

    Look for areas where people play beach sports like cricket, soccer or volleyball. As they are running, jumping and diving for a ball, loose change can easily fall from their pockets and get lost in the sand.

    The Shell Line

    This is where shells, small rocks and seaweed get deposited as the water recedes. Lighter objects such as small coins and earrings can also be deposited on these lines as the tide goes out.

    Low Tide Line

    The low tide line is good for finding targets because this is where most people have been playing and swimming during high tide. As the water recedes it exposes the sand where your potential treasure is buried, giving  a great chance of finding lost jewellery, coins and other valuables.

    When detecting the low tide line, look for troughs or trenches in the sand. These act as traps for potential targets. Also look for where shells and rocks are pulled together as there is a good chance that a target or two has been pulled in with them.

    While the low tide line is a great spot to find targets, keen in mind you will need a detector that can handle wet sand and salt water. This is because wet sand’s mineralisation is a lot higher than dry sand and it can give off false signals or make a non suitable detector quite chatty, which isn’t much fun. 

    When to go beach metal detecting

    When detecting the dry sand such as towel lines and high activity spots there are two really good times to detect. 

    If you are an early riser then get to the beach first thing in the morning before it gets too busy and detect where people would have been the day before. 

    If you prefer to start your day later then get there at the end of the beach day when people are leaving and the beach is less populated. That way you will be one of the first to detect right after the crowds are gone and you won’t be detecting around people.

    Beach metal detecting the low tide will depend on your local tidal patterns so it is always good to check the internet for low tide times in your area. Once you know this, try and get there 30 minutes before low tide so you can set up and be fully ready for some beach metal detecting.

    After storms is another excellent time to detect the beach, because storms will churn up and move sand around which can bring targets up from the deep into shallower parts of the beach. 

    Detect after a king tide as this can yield similar results as detecting after a storm. As the sand is moved around, it can often bring up long lost targets.

    The Gridding Technique

    This is a technique used by beach detectorists the world over. It is a tried and proven method that will mean you don't leave any gaps in coverage, ensuring you will yield more targets and not leave any treasure behind.

    To do it properly, walk in a straight line in one direction. At the end of your section, turn around, move just under a full swing right or left, and walk back in the opposite direction. Make sure to overlap your swing with the last run to ensure you don’t have any gaps which may lead to missing a great find.

    Once you have covered your section in both directions, go over it again at a perpendicular angle (90 degrees) to make sure you haven’t left anything behind. Once you have completed a section, move on to another part of the beach to grid another section.

    To ensure you are detecting in a nice straight line, if your detecting scoop has a long handle then drag it behind you so you can see where you have been. If you are using a hand scoop, you can tie a cord around your waist and pull a heavy object like a large fishing sinker so you can see the trail of where you have been.

    Dry Sand vs Wet Sand

    When metal detecting on a beach it is important to know that a detector will react differently to dry sand compared to wet sand. 

    Dry sand detecting is a lot of fun and can be done with pretty much any metal detector. Dry sand areas often mean there is a large amount of traffic so be prepared to dig your fair share of trash to get to the good targets. 

    Digging trash isn't as bad as it sounds as it helps to really get to know your detector, target IDs and the sounds it makes on different targets.

    Using a metal detector that has discrimination or notching modes can help you dig less trash by “discriminating” out unwanted targets. This basically entails you telling the detector what type of metal you want to ignore.

    Using discrimination takes practice and if you are not careful you run the risk of ignoring a good target if it is made from a similar metal as the unwanted target. Because of this we recommend digging every signal until you really have a good feel for your detector.

    Wet sand detecting can be more of a challenge but can yield excellent results and much less trash. Wet sand can be difficult for most detectors due to salt and minerals, which can cause either false signals or a very chatty detector, neither of which are fun.

    So it’s good to note that not all detectors can handle wet sand and salt water. When choosing a detector for wet sand you need to choose either a continuous multi frequency detector or a detector that you can ground balance to salt water and have adjustable sensitivity to help cut out unwanted chatter and false signals.

    Beach Metal Detecting Tips

  • Detector choice is important
  • Make sure you have the right detector for the kind of beach metal detecting you want to undertake. As mentioned above, virtually any detector can handle dry sand but if you want to detect the wet sand or in the water then make sure you are choosing the right one. See below for our top tips.

  • Research your beach
  • Take some time to get to know the beach you plan on detecting. Beaches can cover huge areas of land so knowing where to start is going to be a big help. Visit the beach when it is busy and get a good feel for where people are sunbathing and hanging out on the dry sand and make note of where the majority of them are swimming and playing in the water. Having some firsthand knowledge of the beach is going to give you a much higher chance of finding some great targets.

  • Check the weather
  • Make sure you check the weather before heading out so you don’t get stuck in the rain or a storm. It can be really frustrating to have to cancel mid-hunt due to bad weather.

  • Wear the right gear
  • Make sure you are wearing the right clothing for the conditions and pack extra sunscreen, water and snacks so you don’t have to leave the beach to replenish your stocks.

  • Consider using headphones
  • Using headphones when detecting is a great advantage. They allow you to hear the faintest of signals and on the beach that is very important. The sound from wind and waves can easily drown out quiet signals. With headphones you can tune out background noise and focus on detecting.

  • Use a sand scoop
  • Sand scoops are a fast and easy way to dig up your target. Designed with holes in them, you can shake the sand out, leaving your target in the scoop. You can use a stainless steel scoop and attach a long handle for easy digging, or opt for a lightweight plastic one. Both are a great accessory for beach metal detecting. Using a sand scoop offers you a lot more protection for sharp objects too. By scooping a target, you can clearly see what is in your scoop before having to touch it. 

  • Check your batteries
  • Whether your detector uses rechargeable or replaceable batteries make sure they are fully charged. If your detector has replaceable ones, then pack spares with you in case they go flat. If your headphones are wireless, ensure they are fully charged before heading out.

  • Sinkers are a good sign
  • If you find sinkers it is a good sign that other heavier objects such as gold rings might be in a similar spot. Gridding the area where you found a sinker is an excellent way to potentially find some great targets.

  • Dig every target
  • While many detectors can discriminate against objects, digging every target is the best way to ensure you don't miss something of value. For example, by discriminating out pull tabs you could also be discriminating against a valuable target made of a similar metal. Our advice is until you really know your detector, dig every signal.

  • Respect people's space
  • If there are people on the beach while you are detecting, try and give them their space and don’t detect too close. While some people may be genuinely interested in what you are doing, many are just there to relax so giving them their space is a courteous thing to do. It also gives our hobby a great reputation.

  • Fill in your holes
  • Whether your target is deep or shallow, it is so important to backfill your holes. An open hole is a potential trip hazard and not filling holes gives our hobby a bad image, which is not the desired outcome. Always leave the beach as you found it.

  • Practice before you go out
  • If you are new to the hobby or just bought a new detector, practicing at home is a great idea to get used to your machine. Place a few items in your yard such as a wedding ring, gold and silver jewellery, new and old coins etc. Also use some junk targets such as nails, pull tabs and beer lids to get a good overall feel. As you swing your coil over each target, write down the target ID of each one (if you have a display on your detector) and get a good feel for the different sounds targets make. Having a written copy of IDs can help you identify targets in the field. It's also recommended to continue to make notes on your targets whenever you are out detecting.

  • Take rubbish with you
  • By now you know that you will be digging up some rubbish as you go along. It’s really important as a detectorist that you take this with you and dispose of it in a bin as you leave. This is not only great for the beach but again gives our hobby a great reputation.

  • Use a finds pouch
  • A finds pouch is a very handy accessory. They tie around your waist and are a great way to store your valuable targets, as well as any pull tabs or other rubbish for disposing of later on.

    Best Metal Detectors for Dry Sand

    As mentioned above, you can pretty much use any metal detector on dry sand. To help narrow down the choice we have selected our favourite models to make it easier for you. The great thing with all of these detectors is that you can also use them in other locations for coin, relic and treasure detecting, so they are extremely versatile. 

    For Kids

    Any of the Minelab Go-find range are an excellent choice. They are simple to use but unlike most kids detectors, they will not be outgrown any time soon and they definitely have a lot of detecting power.

     

    For Teenagers

    The Teknetics Digitek Metal Detector is designed especially with teens and pre-teens in mind. It is lightweight and easy to use but will really let your teen grow and develop their detecting skills over the years.

    For Adults 

    • Bounty Hunter Discovery 1100 With Free Headphones. This is an excellent quality entry level detector and offers great value with the included headphones.

     

    • Bounty Hunter Lone Star Pro. A very good, budget friendly and easy to operate metal detector that won’t break the bank.

     

    • Teknetics Delta 4000 with Carry Bag and Pinpointer. This is an excellent bundle and great value. As you not only get a quality detector with a large LCD display, but also a pinpointer for quick target recovery and a handy carry bag.

    Best Detectors For Wet Sand

    For kids and teenagers

    The Minelab Vanquish 340. This detector is such an easy one to use and has a tonne of power to find those deep targets. As it runs on Minelab's Multi IQ Technology (constant multi frequency operation), it is one of the best machines on the market for detecting on beaches as well as other terrains.

    For Adults

  • Minelab Vanquish 540 Pro Pack. This is the top of the Vanquish range and comes with a 12 inch coil for deep targets and 8 inch coil for high trash sites. It also includes wireless headphones and rechargeable batteries with battery charger. Like all of the Minelab range, the Vanquish 540 runs on the Multi IQ Technology so is one of the best and most stable detectors for wet/dry beaches and all terrains.


  • Quest Q30+. This is a fully waterproof detector capable of going to depth of 5m below the waves. It comes with pre-set beach/salt water settings and is an excellent all rounder. It even comes with 2 gold settings should you ever want to try your hand at gold prospecting.
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  • Quest Q60. This is the top of the range from Quest and is ideal for beach detecting. It is waterproof to 5m, has beach settings as well as gold settings. It comes with a 13x9 inch BEAST-X coil so is super sensitive and can detect deep. It also comes with two sets of headphones; wireless headphones for land and beach detecting and fully waterproof headphones for underwater detecting.

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    Underwater Metal Detectors

  • Quest Scuba Tektor. This original scuba detector from Quest is a budget friendly, handheld detector for snorkeling and scuba diving. It can go deeper than Quest’s full size detectors, up to 60 meters below the waves. Suitable for all ages, just turn on and go.

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  • Quest Scuba Pro. A new take on the previous model, the pro can detect deeper targets and has the pivoting coil for tight nooks and crannies that are hard to get into. It can also detect up to 60m below the waves. Suitable for all ages, it is the perfect machine for those who like to detect deep beneath the surface.


  • Quest Q30+. As mentioned above, this fully waterproof detector is capable of going to a depth of 5m below the waves. It is best suited for divers who prefer to not go too deep but want to have a detector that they can use on land as well as in the water. 


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  • Quest Q60. With all the benefits of the Q30+ but with additional settings, power and frequencies, the Q60 is the ultimate land, beach and underwater detector for the detectorist that really wants it all.

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    We hope you found this guide helpful and encourage you to get in contact with our team if you have any additional questions about beach detecting. Simply join in our live website chat, email us at info@detectorsdirect.com.au or call us today on 1300 230 461.
    As we always say at Detectors Direct, happy hunting!