The beach has to be the spot everyone who is not a prospector expects to find gold. Yes rings do exist on the beach but you also have miles of sand, so let us help you start combing the best locations and save you some time. 

Using the Right Metal Detector For the Beach:

Keep in mind, for dry sand metal detecting, all the beginner metal detectors listed here will perform well and if you want more bells and whistles any of the relic machines discussed here will comb the dry sand with ease and provide great discrimination which is a must on trashy beaches. If the wet sand & water appeals to you, check out this page on the most popular underwater metal detectors.

What Are the Beach Metal Detecting Dry Sand Hotspots?

I know the feeling when you get to the beach…where the heck do I start this place is huge. Yes it can be intimidating but you have to focus. You need to ask yourself these questions, have beach-goers been in the water lately or have they been just relaxing and catching some rays? Are there certain entry/exit points that many beach-goers go over? Are there “activity centres” like volleyball courts, horseshoes, or places where other sports are played? You need to focus on maximum potential for the beach. Don’t have answers to these questions? This is one of the most important beach metal detecting secrets, do research! Grab a towel and sunscreen and head for the beach when most people are there. See what they are doing


beachDry Sand Hotspots:
1. Towel line is the first place I check when metal detecting on the beach. This is where people place their towels and belongings and put on sunscreen. Sunscreen and/or sweat cause greasy fingers, increasing the likelihood of a ring falling off. I have found sunglasses, coin spills, rings, and necklaces in this area. Be prepared to dig plenty of trash but you will be rewarded. Those two black lines show the current “towel line” on this beach. Notice how they are all roughly the same distance from the wet sand. If you want to focus on this section, pick the highest concentration of people as with some beaches the towel line can extend pretty far. If you have not been to the beach before and you are unsure of where the towel line is look for sand build up before the wet sand, many people perch on these mounds. Also, you will get to know the different impressions in the sand that indicate different activities. Seeing where a towel was is pretty easy to determine, as well as foot traffic. Look for these signs and swing your detector to see if they left anything behind!

2 & 3. Activity centres such as the volleyball courts or see where people like to play beach cricket, football, you name it. Also check beside them, this is where they place their belongings and spectators watch. Sports can rip necklaces and bracelets from their wearer. As you can see by the picture there are plenty of volleyball courts but there is also a paved basketball court. Most of the spectators will be watching in the grass and in the sand. Check these areas as well.

4. Entry/exit points are where people may stumble to grab last minute items or need to adjust just how they are holding things. For example at this beach, the restroom serves as the entrance/exit as well. Scan along the wall/walkway by that location as that is where people set their things when they are rinsing off. Also, anytime someone is jumping, in this case over the cement wall, the chances of something flying out of their pocket increases. Keep this in mind when you are scanning along the low walls that line the beach.

5. Wide open space is going to be the last place you should check. While it may produce a great target the odds are slim. As you can see by this picture the area is large and will take a long time to cover. If you have a large amount of time to search, you can give it a try. If I have hunted out all the normal hotspots I will usually hunt this quickly and randomly just to see if I get a target or two. If I am finding targets, I slow down and swing carefully.

Metal Detector Finds Pouch

Beach Metal Detecting Finds PouchWith all the goodies found at your favourite metal detecting beach you are going to need a place to put them so you can continue on your hunt. Metal detecting finds pouches are worn on the waist (most come with a belt) and are designed to hold not only trash items but your keepers in different compartments. Another important feature are “drain holes” so you can quickly rinse out all the sand that is stuck to your beach metal detecting finds, making clean up much easier.

Unique landmarks can produce finds. When I say landmarks I mean anything that is unique to that beach where people would throw their stuff for the day. Examples would be under trees, by piers, or even sand dunes. People want to be able to easily remember where they put their belongings. Throwing their towel and backpack by the pier is easy to remember and they will be able to locate where their stuff is if they go in the water.

 Showers can produce amazing finds, normally located around the lawn area near the carpark, people drop all the gear on the ground and wash the sand of their feet and bodies. So keep an eye on outdoor showers, really worth using a sniper coil there as well.

Life guard towers Lifeguard Tower Sunsetcan be great as well. Beach-goers like to sit and relax on these when the lifeguards are off duty. You can find dropped goodies in the sand nearby. Also, people tend to congregate near life guard towers during the day and are more likely to go in the water in front of them for obvious reasons. Keep this in mind when you are doing your research on where people are on the beach. Remember life guard towers are usually made of aluminium or other metal. One idea is to wait and see if they move them after the summer is over, usually you can find a good assortment of coins and other items where they sat for the season.

Fire pits can produce great finds but you will also dig nails, aluminium blobs, and food wrappers. You may need to turn up the discrimination. I recommend that you have some experience with your beach metal detector before you try metal detecting around fire pits as it can get frustrating digging all that trash. You should consider getting a sniper coil. These are small coils designed for trashy areas (parks, picnic areas, fire pits, etc). They also allow you to get closer to larger metal objects while still being able to hear the small targets close by. This is important for fire pits because some are concrete with rebar housing, causing most detectors to have problems when swinging your detector near them.

Secret/Private locations can be a gold mine.caveThis one may seem strange but on many beaches you can walk in either direction and get to the less crowded parts of the beach where expensive homes line the sand. There can also be little nooks and caves that are scattered. This is make out central! Don’t go cruising around there at night or you may get a surprise. Also, people like to place their belongings in here to keep them protected from the elements. Please exercise caution when entering sea caves, some can be unstable. You can usually tell if there is people activity based on the prints left in the sand. If you see a lot of foot traffic, swing over the area, you may get lucky! I usually hit these during the day or in the early morning and these places have rewarded me with watches, jewelery, and coin spills.

Final Dry Sand Beach Metal Detecting Tip: Timing!
Hunting the dry sand of a popular beach is extremely competitive and can be a vast stretch of land. The dry sand hotspots above should help you focus on WHERE to hunt but I also wanted to mention another of my beach metal detecting secrets: WHEN you should hunt the dry sand. If you are interested in metal detecting the dry sand, timing is important. My advice is to head down just before sun down on a Saturday or Sunday night. Why? Because the regulars like to head out the next morning but you will beat them to it! Now keep in mind, some beaches have curfews and if you are worried about people at night, try hunting from 6 p.m. to about 10 p.m. That way, its not terribly late and there will be some people around but there will be plenty of sand to hunt.

  Willyweather a common tidal app and website used by fishermen, boat owners and for beach detecting

Metal Detecting Low Tide:

I like to get to the beach in the morning around an hour before low tide. Some like to get there earlier but I have a day job and waking up around 5 a.m. is hard enough.  I prefer to work the visible wet sand, starting where most of the water activity takes place.  Depending on how much sand is on the beach you want to focus on flat portions.  If there is a slope and then it levels out, work that area.  Items can be pushed onto the slope but for the most part they will settle in the leveled out area. Look for jetties or the ends of beaches as sand can accumulate here, as well as targets.

Look and feel the sand: What is the consistancy, when you press your foot in does it sink in a little or is there resistance. This is important because this will determine how deep the targets are and how much light sand is covering them up. You want to feel hard packed sand. If you see shells or rocks, this is a good sign. It shows that there is potential for metallic targets as well. Also, some beaches have overburden sand and beneath a rock/shell/clay layer of sand. The closer you are to this layer the better, as most objects get stuck in this mixture as it is very dense.

The first hotspot to look for are “troughs”.  These are areas close to water line that have created a long trench running parallel along the beach, they are usually in the water or can be visible during a negative tide.  Items will settle in the trough, I usually find the heavier items here, like watches, old phones, etc.

Another hotspot are “scallops“.Scallop1formattedThese are similar to troughs but instead of being in the water, they form during the transition between high tide and low tide.  They are different in that they run perpendicular to the beach. It will look like the beach has humps as there will be high and low sections. The low sections act to funnel wave action whereas the higher banks have little sand movement. Items will settle in certain locations typically on the banks or if there is a slope, when the slope starts to decrease. Remember the wet area is lower, so you may be able to find deeper, older items in that area depending on how deep the scallop is.

One thing to keep in mind is that as you search the wet sand of the beach you may find a concentration of items.  This is called a “pocket“.  You want to really go slow in this area because if you are finding concentrated items like crusty coins or heavier items, the likelihood of old jewelry in going to be increased.

Beach Metal Detecting: Water Hunting
This is the final step in beach metal detecting because it is by far the most difficult. There are guys out there who dive and go past their necks when metal detecting which I do not do, nor do I have any experience. For the purposes of water hunting I am talking about around knee to chest high. Any higher and you need to worry about weight belts and other gear. Remember you may be able to detect out in the deep water but good luck digging up a target.

Finding Targets: Similar to wet sand hunting, looking for troughs is key. Also, look for shells or any debris that is on the bottom. Those items collect in certain areas underwater, usually just past the wave break. Work slowly because the increased friction on the coil and shaft from the water can tire you out quickly and puts additional strain on the shaft. Keep your eye on waves as a surprise one can ruin your day. Also, shuffle your feet so you don’t get a nasty surprise from a stingray.

Digging Targets: Now the fun begins. Extracting the target without it being washed away! Once you have a good target place the coil over the target on the ground and hold it there as best you can. Get your feet in a solid spot so you have a good sturdy position. Place your beach scoop right below the coil. Wait for a break in the wave activity, preferably right after one has past you, then start digging, hopefully you will get it in the first scoop. Be especially careful for waves and be sure you take decent sized scoops as there is a chance the target can get swept away from the waves.