The beach is a popular spot to use a metal detector. You need to have a detector that doesn’t mind water though, and one that doesn’t mind salt water if you are at an ocean beach. Most beaches are open to metal detecting, since hobbyists do actually remove a fair amount of debris along with the valuables they find (you should always carry a bag or bucket with you for the junk you find, don’t put it back in the ground to be re-found). Sometimes there are restrictions about when you can search though, like during hours when the beaches are not busy. It is common courtesy to stay a fair distance away from others with your unusual instrument anyway.

beach finds

Jewelry is a frequent find. Water, especially salt water, makes rings slip right off of fingers. Just after the crowds have left, when the tide is going out, is a promising time to explore. Rings and coins are definitely the most common finds, other than rubbish, but you can also find keys, watches, and even cell phones. You don’t only find things left behind by the beach goers either, you can also find things that wash up on the beach from other places, even shipwrecks. You will always come home with something after a hunt at the beach, even if it is just a tan.

How to use a metal detector on the beach

Detecting at beaches is quite common. It is favorable for a few reasons. The beach is simply a fun place to go, plus searching there often turns up a number of valuables. Sand is also easier to detect through and easier to dig in than dirt, because it is not as packed down.

You need headphone when you are at the beach because the sound of the wind will interfere with your signals. Also, the sounds can be annoying to others- except for the kids who will be annoying you when they start following you and asking questions about what you are doing.

Think about where people have been. Beaches that not many people visit are less likely to yield much. Follow trails and paths on the dry sand. Search where the sunbathers have been and the volleyball and Frisbee players too. Slippery sunscreen causes people to lose all kinds of things. The area around the concession stand will usually turn up a few coins as well.

After the dry sand, move to the wet sand and shallow water. If you are working over salt water, this could interfere with your readings, so you might need to play with your sensitivity level to stabilize your signal. The water is a pretty profitable place. People lose a lot of stuff in the water. This is where you find a lot of rings, because, especially in cold sea water, fingers shrink and rings fall off.

You need to make sure that your detector is waterproof and submersible if you are going to be working in and near the water. If your detector was made only for dry land, then the water and salt will wreck your machine.

Another thing to remember is that, since you find a lot of jewelry at the beach, you find a lot of gold. Gold is more difficult to detect. Ignoring things, like pull-tabs from cans, can make you miss some marks. In sand, everything is easy to dig up, so just dig it all up. Don’t re-bury the junk though, and always cover up your holes.

Three of the best metal detectors for the beach

Cobra "Beach Magnet” metal detector

This is an all-purpose detector that can handle any terrain- land, beach, surf, and underwater. Even if you are not working at the beach, it is nice to have a waterproof machine so that you can work over land in the rain. This cobra is called a hybrid, because it works well on land and water.

It doesn’t matter if you are working in fresh water or salt water. You can really work in the water too; this machine can go 130 feet underwater. You could recover some treasure from a sunken ship. The target light alerts you to signals, so you won’t miss anything, and you can even have the sound turned right off. This detector is a good value and comes with a five-year warranty. You can get one for about $400.00.

Garrett ATX Extreme

Salt water simply intensifies the readings from ground minerals, so you will want a detector which is able to handle this problem. A dry land detector will just frustrate you with false signals. VLF (very low frequency) detectors with ground balance features allow you to adjust for the mineralization. You also need a waterproof machine for the best beach hunting experience.

The best detectors for the beach, however, use PI (pulse induction) technology. They are not affected by the mineralization of the sand. The Garrett ATX is a PI metal detector. It is an all terrain, weatherproof machine that will give you depth and consistent sensitivity.

This one won’t be your diving partner, but it is waterproof to 10 feet. It is a sidekick that you can easily take with you. It is collapsible and conveniently fits into a small carrying case. The price tag is just over $2,000.00.

Tesoro Sand Shark Underwater metal detector

This is a PI detector, but it is not the most expensive one money can buy. You can get one for about $600.00. It has a special feature, which is a microprocessor chip that makes the machine more customizable to your needs. You can adjust the settings to find the best balance of depth, sensitivity, and battery life for what you are doing.

This detector was made for the beach, so it has no problem with wet salt beaches. It can also go diving with you down to 200 feet.


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