Guide to Metal Detecting on Florida Beaches

by Chad Eicher

Metal Detecting on Florida Beaches

I lived in Florida for 3 years not long ago and spent a lot of time Metal Detecting on Florida Beaches.

This guide is based upon those actual experiences.

So Hopefully I will be able to give you some great tips for Treasure Hunting, coin shooting and jewelry finding on Florida Beaches!

Laws and Metal Detecting in Florida

There are so many public beaches in Florida that you can do a different one every weekend and never run out!

We have included a section on Laws for Metal Detecting on Florida Beaches at the end of this article.

Please read it and then seek advice from a lawyer if you are worried. I AM NOT A LAWYER AND DO NOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE!

If I were to sum it up I would say:

  • DO NOT TRY TO DETECT IN FEDERAL PARKS
  • DO NOT Go Metal Detecting on Florida Beaches in state parks without looking up the roles for that park on line or calling.
  • DO NOT try to detect near known ship wreck sites without knowing the law.
  • DO NOT detect in the water without knowing the law.
  • DO detect on public beaches. Every ocean front town and city has one.
  • DO go Metal Detecting on Florida Beaches at low tide. You can find stuff without being “in the water” and I THINK that keeps you out of the “50 year or older law” mentioned in the legal laws at the end of the article.
  • DO obey the local laws and if you are asked to leave or stop say Yes sir thank you sir and leave. There are plenty of places to go.
  • DO have fun. 99.999% of people Metal Detecting on Florida Beaches never have a problem. But I have heard plenty of stories of people who argued with police when asked to leave and lost.
  • DO call the local police if you really want to know the law for a local beach that you want to detect on. They are in a tourism state and are friendly.

When to Go Metal Detecting on Florida Beaches

THIS IS SERIOUS – Florida is HOT! In the summer time you can get heat stroke on the beaches!

August is like an open frying pan on the beach. Yes people are out there tanning and I don’t know how they do it.

I HIGHLY recommend that you go early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Mid winter it can get cold on the beach. 50’s with a wind can chill you down fast,

In Spring it rains almost every morning for a half hour or so it seems.

What to Bring Metal Detecting on Florida Beaches

Your Detector (Duh, and yes I have forgotten it on a trip or two).

A spare battery pack. I always had a rechargeable battery pack and a alkaline pack as a back up.

SUN SCREEN!!!

Light long sleeve shirt and hat with a brim to block the sun (you can tilt your head at the right angle and block the sun out of your eyes) and sun glasses (Some of the beaches are white and it is like going snow blind after a while form the sun reflecting off of the sand) and if you should look at a pretty girl…and there are plenty…you wont look like you are staring. Just don’t walk into anyone or anything while doing so.

A tool belt with pouches or pants with plenty of pockets (One for the good stuff you find, one for junk, one for an occasional nice shell, etc).

A bottle of nearly frozen water and a way of carrying it. I had mine in a belt around my waste.

A SAND SCOOP! I used the long handled model so I didn’t have to bend down so much. You can click on this link to read our article on sand scoops for metal detecting.

Where is the best place on the beach to Metal Detect on Florida Beaches?

99,5% of the other people I saw metal detecting on the beaches were detecting near the water line to within 10 feet of it.

I DISAGREE.

The three best places to go metal detecting on Florida beaches are:

  1. In the water where people swim and frolic all day and lose jewelry – But most people don’t go in the water because their detector is not water proof OR the waves make it to hard. But guess what? There is a better way…go at low tide! Most of the Florida papers carry the tide charts daily. You can get them on line as well. Go an hour before low tide and you can metal detect for 3 hours (an hour before, an hour during low tide and an hour after) often right where people are swimming and wading at high tide!
  2. Half way up the beach where people are sitting and laying and taking off their pants and shirts and putting it all on towels. I can’t tell you how many times I would find piles of change along with earings or a ring all together an inch under the sand where someone had it on a blanket and lost it in the sand and never knew or something!
  3. Along cuts in the sand – when waves come in at high tide or at any time the winds are stronger then normal they can erode a cut in the sand. Essentially a drop off or little cliff 1 foot to 6 feet tall. Detecting along the base of this sand cut can yiels great finds IF you get there before all the other metal detector treasure hunters!

What are the best metal detectors for metal detecting on Florida Beaches?

I was using a Garrett AT Pro (click here to read our review) and would find stuff down to 10 inches in the sand so I was happy with it. Any detector that is designed for the salt and beach will work fine. A detector that is waterproof is a plus if you want to go wading.

You can click on this link to read our article on the best metal detectors for the beach.

Laws for Metal Detecting on Florida Beaches

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A LAWYER. IF YOU WANT LEGAL ADVISE SEEK A LAWYER. THIS IS JUST THE BEST INFORMATION I COULD PULL TOGETHER FROM STATE WEBSITES AND TREASURE HUNTING WEBSITES FOR METAL DETECTING FL. IT IS NOT MEANT TO BE LEGAL ADVICE!!!

Laws for Underwater Metal Detecting in FL

There are no Florida laws or state statutes that prohibit you from diving with a metal detector. It is true however, that you must stay out of leased sites for example you can dive on Mel Fisher wrecks on the treasure coast if you so desire. However, be advised that you should not have a metal detector in the lease sites, and you must stay 300 feet away from the dive boats that are working the leases. This is similar to laws for encroaching on peoples gold leases on land.

Additionally, you must abide by Florida law when metal detecting. Should you find anything on the bottom and recover it. Effective 1 June 2005, the state of Florida did away with the Isolated Finds program. This program gave treasure hunters the opportunity to keep the find as long as they provided the state with the location.

It is now against the law when metal detecting in Fl to recover anything in state waters more than 50 years old. As a diver metal detecting in Fl you are responsible for knowing these laws and locations before you dive with your detector. In Florida state waters include all submerged bottom lands to include lakes, rivers and three miles out into the ocean on the East coast, nine miles out on the Gulf Coast, and twelve miles out from Key West.

Laws for Metal detecting in FL inside State Parks

When metal detecting in Fl inside State parks you are required to get written permission from the Park Ranger before you hunt in the park. However, the State does allow metal detectors in some state parks.

You can check www.floridastateparks.org and look up the rules for the park you are going to.

Laws for Metal detecting in FL inside National Parks

The Laws for metal detecting in Fl inside National Parks are STRICT AND SERIOUS! Do not bring your detector into a Florida National park, and that includes any beaches, or waters adjacent to the National Park. For example the Canaveral Seashore National Park is patrolled by park police by land, sea and air. They have strict orders to keep treasure hunters away.

This is true for many (or all? I am not sure) National Parks thruout the US. They don’t want people plundering (and yes people have tried to bring backhoes and bulldozers into national parks to dig up sites that they believed contained treasure) what belongs to all the people of the US and leaving behind a mess for the parks to clean up.

Laws for Metal detecting in FL on Private Beaches

There is good news on metal detecting in Fl on Private Beaches – There are no private beaches in the State of Florida (other than the National Parks), and you are allowed to hunt the beaches from the Dune to the low tide line as you desire, and that includes the beaches adjacent to the 1715 fleet of Spanish shipwrecks UNLESS YOU ARE WITHIN 3000 (or is it 5000?) Yards of a Lease.. The rule on the beach is finders keepers, so don’t let any beach side Condo owners or Hotel operators try to run you off, as they do not own the beach, the people of Florida own the beaches so you can go metal detecting on the beaches.

However I have been run off of several beaches by private beach front security guards in front of fancy houses and condos.

I would advise to leave if you are asked to.

If you play tough guy chances are they will call the police and there is enough obscurity and missinformation in the laws concerning metal detecting in Florida that you could be arrested and have your detector confiscated even if you did nothing wrong.

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