Underwater Metal Detecting

12 Underwater Metal Detecting Tips! [For Much Better Finds!]

Underwater Metal Detecting Tips

I honestly believe that the best treasures are found underwater. This includes targets due to shipwrecks, in addition to a large number of items lost by people every day in the water…

… Also, the fact that underwater is much less frequently searched compared to dry land … This makes the odds of you coming across highly valuable items underwater very high!

So far, so good! However, the main issue that I can see here is that many people with the ambition of searching for stuff underwater simply don’t follow the right steps (as far as I am concerned) …

… That’s why, I’ve decided to put together 15 Underwater Metal Detecting Tips, that you should take into consideration so you will make the process successful!

Let’s freaking Go!

Tip 1: Use the Right Metal Detector

Minelab Excalibur 2

That’s a fundamental part of the game, indeed, not all detectors could be used underwater; better yet, not all of them could be submerged in it!

Not only that, you still need to get it right depending on whether you are dealing with saltwater or freshwater.

Freshwater is similar to farm fields on land, they tend to be both clean and have less mineralization … That’s why you won’t need more than a VLF device that can operate fairly deep underwater …

… For that the model I blindly recommend is the Garrett AT Pro (Check it Here on Amazon), it can go up to 10 feet underwater and can pick up most of what you could expect in terms of finds.

Now, let’s say you want to detect in saltwater which is pretty heavy in mineralization, then a model like the Minelab Excalibur II (Check it Here on Amazon) is what you will need. It can go as deep as 200 feet and has excellent discrimination to eliminate conductive particles and decent sensitivity pick up the smallest targets.

Finally, if you are looking for a model that can operate for both kinds of water, then the one that could cover both is the Minelab Equinox 800 (Check it Here on Amazon) … Its only limitation is its ability to be deeply submerged since it can go only 10 feet underwater … If that still fits you then that’s the one you should go with.

For more details, I highly encourage you to check these Underwater Metal Detectors! I include 5 Highly Effective Models!

Tip 2: Use the Right Gear

Metal Detecting Headphones

In addition to your beloved machine you will need to use some additional accessories to make the process much more efficient.

The first one you must have is waterproof headphones will help you focus on the oldest and deepest of the targets and also cut out any external noise.

Almost all underwater detectors come with a standard set of waterproof headphones. Yet, I still encourage you to check this waterproof headphones list as it has some of the best choices out there.

Another thing you will certainly need is a carry bag. Indeed, it is the best way to protect your detector! It also makes transporting easy.

Don’t forget your trowel and using a sand scoop for your initial gear! In fact, Having a Sand Scoop (Check this one Here on Amazon) will save you a lot of time recovering your targets, especially if you are detecting in the beach.

Tip 3: Target the Right Place

The more people who are visiting an area, the better are your chances of finding lost valuables. Areas where heavy concentrations of people are present either in or over the water body are the most productive! But as far as I am concerned, I would suggest returning lost stuff to the owner (that’s part of our code of conduct)

Anyway, such areas can be swimming holes, deep surf near popular beaches, docks and piers, etc.

You should pay special attention to places around platforms/boards and piers from which people jump into the water. The higher such a structure, the better are the chances of finding something in the water below.

If you want to search for shipwrecks, then you should make sure that you do your research first and find out the places of interest. Old maps could be a Great asset!

Learn how to target the right places!

Tip 4: Adjust your Settings

Having the right machine is obviously great, but this won’t be enough! If you are a seasoned hobbyist you certainly get what I mean …

… There are several features/settings you may want to plan with, the 3 main ones are:

  • Discrimination: Depending on how trashy of an environment you are dealing with, the tip I could give you here is the following. If the environment tends to be trashy, then adjust the discrimination to the maximum and then start decreasing little by little until you reach the proper level. Otherwise, do the opposite!
  • Sensitivity: If you already know the size/electrical conductivity of your target, then adjust your sensitivity to it! Indeed, for a low sized target and or low conductive then you will need a higher sensitivity. And vice versa!
  • Frequency: This would apply to multi-frequency machines like the Equinox series/XP Deus … These kinds of machines operate on multiple frequencies. If you already have a feel of what you are looking for, then use the right frequency for it … otherwise, if you just don’t care and want to look for everything, then just let your machine operate on all its frequencies at the same time.

Tip 5: A Proper Suit!

This might sound obvious, yet there are hobbyists who just ignore that!

In fact, body temperatures will decrease rapidly when submerged in water, and you will be placing yourself at risk of losing body heat …

… You can choose from a wetsuit and a drysuit, depending on the temperature of the water you plan to detect.

A Wetsuit (Check this one Here on Amazon) will provide thermal protection by allowing a thin layer of water through the suit, filling the space between the inner layer of the material and your body.

On the other hand, a Drysuit (Check this one Here on Amazon) keeps you completely dry by ensuring that no water gets inside the suit. The suit is fully sealed, and it used a combination of a waterproof zipper, wrist seals, and a neck seal to keep you completely dry. .

Tip 6: Adopt the Right Techniques

You need to work in slow and consistent motions. Try to come up with an imaginary path that you can follow, choosing to cover it exhaustively before you move on to search in another area…

…Follow this imaginary line and move back and forth about 5 to 6 feet to either side of this line, paying close attention to any potholes.

Also, try to go with the flow of the water currents and let them push you back and forth. Pay attention to the low spots, valleys, and around rocks present at the bottom. Sometimes gold valuable tend to be hidden in these places.

When searching in the sand that is less than five inches deep, opt for swinging the search coil in a semi-circular motion in front of you at a moderate speed and overlap only slightly.

For deep sand, slow down the speed of your sweeps and listen for any tiny and deep signals!

Tip 7: Underwater Communication is Crucial

Underwater communication should be a priority for every diver! However, while detecting or in wreck diving, all hand signals and the meaning behind them might not work as it may be hard to use and understand.

When there is inadequate visibility, and you are carrying your detector and other equipment, using your hands become unpractical!

In such cases, the best way for communication will be to stay close to each other, talking slowly into each other’s regulators and keeping sentences short.

Thus, you can continue to detect or explore the shipwreck without having to put down your equipment.

It is always best if you detect with a partner or if you have someone present above water to help you if something goes wrong.

Tip 8: Increase the depth range as much as possible

If you have a multi-tone ID metal detector, then use the zero discrimination feature and dig up all but the iron targets.

The sensitivity setting should be set pretty high, but not to the maximum if you want your device to remain stable and not producing any false signals.

Zero discrimination, along with maximum sensitivity settings, can provide you the greatest operational depth range. This is what you need to detect gold and silver items for example.

Even though recovering gold targets requires you to dig deep down, it is still more comfortable and quicker to dig deep in the water than it is on land, which is one of the biggest advantages of underwater metal detecting.

Learn about metal detectors depth!

Tip 9: Use Long Wood Handle Steel Trowels

Many detectorists opt for using long wood-handled steel trowels for recovering items from the hard clay or rocky bottom. This is because the stainless steel is strong enough to withstand any hard hits against the rocks. It also does not rust and can be used for a long time.

The long wood handle also lessens the weight, making it more comfortable for you to use. It also saves your knuckles from getting injured or skinned by rocks or corals. Remember that coral cuts do not heal very well and can burn quite a lot.

The trowel also handles most digging jobs very well.

You can also use this trowel to fan the water in a hole when you have almost reached your target while stirring it up from deep sand. This hydraulic action of the trowel preserves the find, but may take a little bit more time to reach the target.

Tip 10: Your Safety!

If you are going scuba diving with your beloved detector, the first rule to be followed is that you should never go alone. For your own and everybody’s safety, it is always better to do underwater detection in a groups or with a partner.

Always be aware of the environment in which you are exploring because the environment underwater can be potentially dangerous.

Stingrays, sharks, and jellyfish should be avoided at all costs. Also, avoid eels, sea snakes, sea urchins, stonefish, and cone shells. All these can hurt you if you bother them. For example, the stonefish have venomous spines that can harm you.

Also, be aware of boaters if you are detecting in close proximity to the coastline. Remember to put up a dive flag and follow all safety procedures while looking for underwater treasure with your metal detector.

Learn more about this hobby dangers!

Tip 11: Timing is everything!

Detecting underwater is highly dependent on nature! This is why it is important to understand the weather and climate to get the timing just right for you…

… For example, if you want to begin by searching on beaches, then make sure that you hunt a little before low tide. This gives you the best possible results for finding valuables in the deeper parts of the ocean.

Make use of the currents to lead you to some high potential sand. This refers to search areas where you can see water movements happening because a lot of sand is being carried there by the current.

It is also best to search underwater right after a storm. Indeed, it tends to displace many of the hidden treasures, helping unhinge them from their burial spots. The chances of finding valuables are the highest right after a storm.

Tip 12: What about Nighttime Underwater Detecting?

Many underwater detectorists believe that nighttime is the best time to go as there are no crowds present at that time.

However, this is one of the worst mistakes detectorists make!

In fact, the best time is during the daytime because everything is clearly visible. You can also easily make out junk items from treasures due to the presence of natural light.

It is also much safer to detect in the daytime as if you run into trouble, chances are you can get somebody to help you!

Learn about using your detector at night!


I really hope that you’ve found some or most of these tips to be helpful for you! The most important thing for me if to make sure that your safely is well covered…

… I don’t want you to run into any trouble whatsoever! At the end of the day, this hobby is mostly about having fun!

So, yea, let’s go have some fun out there!

Recently, I’ve written about the most expensive metal detectors in the market today! Check them out as some of them can operate underwater with a high performance!

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.