how to read the beach metal detecting

How to Read the Beach for Metal Detecting? (Helpful Tips)

how to read the beach for metal detecting

Metal detecting in the beach is one of the most common aspects of the hobby. I won’t be surprised if 90% of hobbyists out there detect only or mostly on the beach!

However, to be successful doing so there are many skills and techniques you should know about. One of the most important ones is “Reading the Beach”

But, what does this even mean?

Let me explain, beaches are usually large and to be able to completely detect 100% in a one beach  you might need a full day if not couple days to do so …

However, if you are able to properly read the beach you will be efficient and would predict your target’s locations and come across the most valuable ones without having to go through the whole beach.

In this article, I share the most effective ways to properly reach any beach for maximum metal detection success!

Understand the type of beach you are about to explore

There are many types of beaches that you might have to explore. Indeed the reading & understanding the kind of beach you are dealing with is important as it impacts your metal detecting approach.

Here are the two main types of beaches and how it affects metal detecting.

1. Saltwater Beaches

These are the most common type! They are typically found along seas, oceans, and estuaries.

The primary characteristic of saltwater beaches is their salinity. The latter of the ocean is 35%.

Saltwater beaches have bigger tides and waves. This makes them perfect for recreational water activities, meaning that these beaches are usually crowded.

So chances are, you will be able to find lost items in there!

Saltwater boosts the normal ground minerals present in the ground and causes many land-based metal detectors to create chatter and give false signals.

That’s why you always need to make sure that your machine has the Ground Balancing feature. The latter will allow you to get through those little particles and only focus on the potential finds you may come across.

2. Freshwater Beaches

These are found in the form of rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and some estuaries. While they are not entirely free of salt, most freshwater bodies have a lesser amount of salinity level.

This is usually less than one percent. VLF or Very Low-Frequency detectors work best on freshwater beaches.

It is a widespread belief that freshwater beaches yield better finds. This is believed to be so because ocean beaches are more popular, and there are more detectorists hunting there, whereas freshwater beaches rarely get detected.

For such places you don’t necessarily need to have a high end machine, even a cheaper machine can help you get the job done. Just make sure you have waterproof detector, in case you want to detect underwater.

Breakdown the beach parts you might detect in

There is never just one good place to metal detect on the beach. You need to be able to have complete look at the beach first, try to read it and figure out the areas where you have a good chance of finding something valuable …

Below 3 good indications:

1. Towel or Blanket Line

People on the beach tend to follow one another’s lead and lay down their beach towels in one line along the shore.

This is commonly referred to as the ‘towel line.’ Search for sections of the beach of the towel line once they are empty.

If there are sunbathers still using the areas, try not to irritate them. It is best to wait when the beach is relatively empty to search along the towel line.

2. Areas of activity

The best places to metal detect where most people are known to gather. It is a great idea to search around the known picnic spots, refreshment stands, volleyball nets, lifeguard stations, areas where the beach chairs are placed, and the walkways.

Again, remember to wait for a time when the beach is relatively crowd-free to detect in these public places.

3. Shady areas

In the summer heat, people prefer to sit in the shade, increasing the possibility of losing and dropping things in these areas.

Search in areas where some large rocks or piers provide good afternoon shade. More people are likely to have spent time here.

Some of the other places to treasure hunt on in and around the beach include trails, seawalls, boardwalks, concession stands, and walkways.

You can also research and find out about abandoned or lesser-known swimming areas on the beach, opening up new detection places.

Private or quiet beaches are less likely to produce too many finds since they have fewer people on the shores. Beaches that are visited frequently make for the best places to treasure hunt.

What part of the beach is best for metal detector?

Sometimes, searching the base of seawalls is an excellent idea as treasure often tends to wash up and get trapped here.

Of course, beginning with the towel line is a great idea. Some of the common finds you are likely to find along the towel line include sunglasses, coins, jewelry, etc.

Metal detector recommendation for the beach …

Equinox 800

The Minelab Equinox 800 (Check it Here at Amazon) is an excellent detector for the beach!

The device is not only efficient for beach metal detecting, but also stable and sensitive. It comes with an 11 inches Double D smart coil, which is waterproof and perfect for underwater detecting or wet beach treasure hunting.

It comes with the Multi-IQ technology that allows detectorists to comb any location using multiple frequencies.

This multi-frequency feature means that the detector is able to create a coil field with all the available frequencies at the same time.

There are five single frequencies in the Equinox 800 – 5, 10, 15, 20, and 40 kHz, and the multi-frequency mode is separate, which can use all these frequencies together.

What is the best time to metal detect on the beach?

Reading the location is important, but reading the time you are going to detect in is as important!

In fact, the beach is the most crowded during the summer season. This makes it the perfect season for metal detecting.

Detecting after the peak visiting hours are over is usually a great idea since you can detect without the crowds, and you won’t be causing any inconvenience to others.

Detecting during the early morning hours before the crowds arrive can also yield good results.

After a storm, is also a great time to detect on a beach as strong winds and sea/ocean waves will erode the beach and churn the sand, bringing buried objects closer to the surface of the beach.

Also, storms tend to wash in the sand from the sea along with many types of treasures.

What can you find with a metal detector at the beach?

Jewelry is the most common find you are going to find. This is because the cold water makes the fingers slippery, letting items like rings or bracelets to slip off easily.

Also, many people tend to take off their jewelry before going into the water, and it often just falls into the sand, disappearing from view.

Apart from jewelry, you can also expect to find coins (both modern and rare ones), bottle caps, belt buckles, and other knick-knacks while searching on the beach.

Metal detecting patterns you should follow …

To be able to detect in the beach properly you need to follow some patterns. Choosing a pattern and not another also depends on you reading of the beach.

Most common patterns include …

Overlapping Pattern: This is one of the most common patterns. The main advantage of using this pattern on the beach is that with each pass, you are overlapping on the previous pass.

This ensures that there is no undetected part of the beach left, and you are less likely to miss out on a target.

However, this pattern can be very time-consuming, and it makes take you a long time to cover one particular spot on the beach.

Spiral Pattern: A spiral pattern is used when you have already detected one target and recovered it from the sand.

The purpose of doing a spiral pattern search around the place where you found the target is to search for any additional finds that the same person may have lost at the same time.

A drawback of a spiral pattern is that you may miss certain areas in between the spirals.

Random Pattern: Detecting using a random search pattern is a very common pattern used by beginners.

However, the drawback is that many areas of the beach will be left undetected, and there is no certainty that you will end up finding something of value in the place you have picked for the random search.

Tools you need depending on the beach situation

Here are some accessories that can make your life easier at the beach:

1. Sand Scoop

metal detecting sand scoop

Having a sand scoop (Like this one) will help you recover the items you find quickly and easily. The best material for a sand scoop is stainless steel.

There are also many newer plating methods available these days that are being utilized on many modern sand scoops to fight against erosion.

Sand scoops are available in all shapes and sizes. You can choose from short handle scoops, medium handle scoops, and long handle scoops as well.

If you are detecting along with the sandy parts of the beach, then using a short or medium handle scoop is the best option.

Most sand scoops come with special filters or screens that are designed for treasure hunting. These filters allow the sand and any small pebbles to fall through while keeping the treasure intact inside.

You can have a look at my favorite sand scoops!

2. Shovel

Detection Shovel

If you do not have the right shovel (Like this one), you will spend a lot of time frantically digging through the sand with a trowel or a garden knife.

Without using a shovel, the more you dig at the sand, the more futile your efforts will seem. However, when you have a shovel, you will be able to dig through the beach sand easily and faster.

A shovel also makes it easier to fill up the holes you have made.

You can have a look at my favorite shovels!

3. Pinpointer

Unless you want to be digging giant holes all over the beach, it is recommended that you have a pinpointer to help you locate the items.

Handheld pinpointers help you determine precisely where your treasure is hiding, avoiding having to dig up buckets of dirt.

For the beach, you should be opting for a waterproof pinpointer.

Metal Detecting the Wreck Sites – What you need to know

In some rare cases, it is possible to come across a wreck site while metal detecting!

There are many important wreck sites around the US. If you want to detect a wreck site, it is best to do so after a hurricane or storm.

This is because the strong surf and a high tide cause maximum erosion at the foot of the dunes and on the beach itself.

These swells with a high tide can form deep and large cuts and expose the old dune sand, along with other beach areas. In such cases, it is a good idea to detect at the high tide line area of the beach near the dunes.

Metal detecting for wrecks after a hurricane is an excellent idea because hurricanes cause very deep cuts.

Sometimes, they can even be up to five or ten feet in size. Go out after the high surf has settled, which may take a few days after the hurricane passes.

Metal detecting at the low tide line at this time may prove to be beneficial. Search around shell areas, rock piles, beach cuts that are close to the water edge, low spots, etc.

Beach metal detecting in Extreme situations – What you need to know

Don’t let the storm stop you!

In fact, storms churn up the seas and the beaches, moving things around. This is why many detectorists come out right after a storm.

After a storm, it is recommended that you always dig up all the targets your detector identifies, even if it is iron.

Many detectorists have found many interesting and valuable objects though they were not made of silver or gold.

Remember that priceless treasures can also be made up of copper, bronze, or iron. They don’t necessarily have to be jewelry or valuable metals.

Do not throw away anything found while detecting after a storm until you are sure it is trash.

Final Thoughts …

Hope this article has given you a clear idea on how you should approach reading the beach for maximum metal detecting success!

People who fail to do so, are either unsuccessful or find them self with the need to making a ton of effort for little rewards.

So please take notes of these techniques and (most importantly) try to implement them so you will figure out the process.



About the Author

Carissa Harmer

Carissa is the huge metal detecting enthusiast that loves collecting coins. She is also highly interested in other treasure hunting activities like magnet fishing and gold prospecting/panning.