Underwater Metal Detectors - The Ultimate Guide 2021

Underwater Metal Detecting - A Guide for 2021

Underwater Metal Detecting is fast becoming one of the more popular metal detecting styles and it's easy to see why. With an underwater metal detector you can find some very interesting, as well as highly valuable, targets.

Most people when thinking about metal detecting, they picture someone using a detector on dry land, be it in gold fields, parks or on the beach. But getting below the water is where some very unusual and lucrative finds can often be recovered.

Whether it is in the ocean or freshwater, there are so many places where you can go can take an underwater metal detector to find some hidden treasure. 

In this guide we will talk about the different types of detectors used for underwater metal detecting, their uses and applications, and also great locations for detecting underwater.

Types of Underwater Metal Detectors

      1. Hand held, purpose made scuba/snorkeling detectors 

metal detecting underwater


Hand held scuba detectors, as mentioned above, are purpose built for finding targets underwater. They operate on a Pulse Induction operating system and can handle the high mineralisation of salt water extremely well. 

These types of underwater metal detectors have a simple and robust design, so can handle deep water pressure and can go to depths of up to 60 metres. 

Being a small hand held detector they are very easy to maneuver underwater and can go between tight spots such as rocks and sea plants with ease.

Who are scuba detectors best suited to?

They are best suited for people who enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving and generally being in and underwater. While they are designed for being used underwater, one model, the Quest Scuba Pro, has an extension handle attachment included in the box. This allows you to add a pole to the detector so it can be used on the sand or river banks while remaining in an upright walking position.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of hand held scuba detectors:

  • Pulse Induction Technology, so they are very stable in salt water
  • Small and compact and easy to maneuver
  • Can be taken to extreme depths, up to 60m
  • Very affordable option for underwater detecting.

Disadvantages of hand held scuba detectors:

  • Smaller search coil compared to full sized detectors, so less ground is covered with each pass
  • Less target search depth due to the smaller coil size
  • No extra features of full sized detectors such as target identification or discrimination
  • Not suited for detecting in parks, bush and gold fields.

       2. Full sized multi purpose Underwater Metal Detectors

underwater metal detector

Full sized multi purpose land and underwater metal detectors are an excellent choice for people who would like to search underwater but also search on land for coins, relics, treasure and even gold nuggets. 

As these detectors are full size, you get the added bonus of having all the features that come with modern detectors such as:

  • Large display with numerical target identification.
  • Discrimination to identify or reject unwanted targets
  • Automatic or manually adjusted settings 
  • Larger coils for more depth and ground cover
  • Built in speaker for sound as well as headphone capabilities.

Who are full sized underwater metal detectors best suited for?

These detectors are suited for anyone who enjoys detecting in parks, beaches and gold fields but who also enjoys detecting in and underwater. Their advanced technology and features make adjusting the detector to handle salt water and the mineralisation associated with it very easy. 

They come with pre-set settings for beach and salt water but can also be manually adjusted to get more out of the detector and ground conditions.

While they are not designed to go as deep as their hand held counterparts, they can still get some impressive depths and can be taken down to 5 metres in any body of water.

Advantages and Disadvantages

 Advantages of full sized underwater metal detectors:

  • They have all the features of modern metal detectors
  • Can run in auto settings or can be manually adjusted to suit ground/water conditions
  • Deeper target depth recovery
  • Cover more ground due to their larger search coil
  • Can be used for all types of metal detecting, including gold detecting in most models.

Disadvantages of full sized underwater metal detectors.

  • Cannot be used as deep underwater as hand held underwater metal detectors, with a maximum depth of 5m
  • Larger in size, they are not as maneuverable as their smaller counterparts
  • Higher cost compared to hand held models.

Where to go Underwater Metal Detecting

Underwater metal detecting can be a very lucrative hobby and is also a lot of fun. Where you go detecting depends on what you are looking for.

If you are looking for old coins, relics, jewellery and the like, then you have a great deal of choices.

Beaches: Search in the shallows at low tide as many lost items are pulled in by the waves and buried in and around the low tide water line. Detect around piers and jetties as many valuables are dropped off them. Detect in shallow water in between life guard flags as most people will swim and gather in these areas.

Lakes and swimming holes: These bodies of water are another great place to detect underwater. Research public swimming spots in your area and particularly places that have been used historically. People have been using these types of places to cool down in summer for generations, so they are an excellent location to find old relics, jewellery and coins.

Rivers and Creeks: In gold bearing ground, rivers and creeks are a great place to search for gold nuggets. Gold often gets lodged into the cracks and nooks of bedrock at the bottom of rivers and creeks. Having a waterproof metal detector means you can snorkel or dive these waterways and find the nuggets that others can't get to.  

Looking After Your Underwater Metal Detector

Caring for your underwater metal detector will ensure it will last you for years to come. Here are some tips to help keep your detector good as new.

  • Check all plugs, caps and seals have been fastened tightly before entering the water.
  • Always wash your detector in fresh water after use in muddy or saltwater.
  • Check O'Rings and seals on your underwater detector regularly. With time, salt water can degrade these. Keeping them lubricated with a suitable lubricant can keep them from drying out. For Silicone O'Rings, use a silicone lubricant, for rubber O'Rings, use a suitable non petroleum based lubricant.
  • Avoid going deeper than the manufacturer's recommended maximum depth. Water pressure gets stronger the deeper underwater you go. Going past these depths may put too much stain on the detectors housing and cause damage.
  • Make sure your detector is dried thoroughly before charging or unscrewing caps and fitting. 

Whether you are just starting out or already have some detecting experience, owning an underwater metal detector adds an extra layer to your metal detecting adventures.

In addition, if you are brand new to metal detecting and want the latest information, guides and tips, then please have a read of our Ultimate Beginners Guide To Metal Detecting HERE.