Metal Detecting After a Hurricane: Treasure Awaits

Published by Tony Shrader on 08/30/23

After any significant storm on the coast, you’ll see metal detectorists out by the dozens, sweeping the beaches for freshly uncovered finds.

Any other day, whatever you find is most likely a “fresh drop.” Layers of sand are added to beaches every day, and so most valuable items are buried under seven feet of sand. But, when a hurricane strikes, the sand is pulled off the beach, revealing all the lost items that haven’t been seen in decades.

Hurricanes also throw a lot of items that were on the ocean floor onto the beach.

Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast in 2016, detectorists found class rings from the 1930s, old coins, and treasures that were hidden in the dunes for months afterwards.

Dunes are illegal to hunt, so when the hurricane blew through them, dispersing their contents across the beach, there was a lot to be found that had been hidden for years. Depending on what part of the coast you’re hunting, you could find actual treasure.

Metal detecting veteran, Carolyn Harwick, said it was a free-for-all after Hurricane Matthew. All the sand came off the beach and everything was released from the dunes. Detectorists even found Indian pennies, a find that’s very rare.

Millions of ships have shipwrecked over the course of human history, and an estimated $60 billion in treasure is buried with them. Vero Beach, which is located along the Treasure Coast in Florida, is home to the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet wreckage. Artifacts and coins still wash up on shore, and after a hurricane the chance of finding something of value is high.

Treasure Find

Hurricanes toss and turn everything, bringing what’s at the bottom up to the shoreline. Everyone holds out hope that they’ll be lucky enough to find gold coins and jewels that have been lost for centuries.

And it does happen!

Shop Now: After the Storm Detecting Essentials

Many areas of the beach will be blocked off after a hurricane in order to protect people’s property. It’s important to avoid trespassing and be aware of areas police have closed off.

If you plan on hitting the beach there are great metal detectors and accessories that are perfect for beach hunting after a hurricane. Our beach scoops make sifting through the sand much easier, and don’t forget to pick up some waterproof headphones.

The Minelab Excalibur II is waterproof up to 200 feet, but it’s also effective on land. It features 17 different frequencies to help you find more coins, rings and relics buried deep down.

The Tarsacci MDT 8000 can adapt to the salty environment of beach detecting. The 12" open coil is fully waterproof and the detector can be submerged up to 1.5m or about 5ft for up to 30 minutes so shallow surf won't be a problem when you are finding those gold coins along the treasure coast. 

Other options include the Minelab Equinox 900 is great in saltwater and is multi-frequency. The Minelab CTX3030 is Minelab’s highest performing all-around metal detector and is submersible up to 10 feet, which makes it another fantastic option. If you plan on going scuba diving, take a Nokta Makro Pulsedive with you.

Note: Different beaches have varying regulations on detecting in the water. You should always consult local authorities before hunting in the water.

How Hurricanes Help Metal Detecting

One thing we can count on every year is at least one hurricane or tropical storm to form in the open waters. Being prepared is a normal part of coastal living, including the possibility to find new treasure on the beach after a storm. The larger the storm the greater the chance to find something. It may seem like it’s because of covering a wider area, but the real reason lays in how fast the winds are blowing.

Under the Waves

Under The Waves

Under The Waves

It’s easy to see the force that the wind has on the ocean topside but think that it’s calm underwater. The truth is that the waves being whipped up causes strong currents underneath. According to, each wave creates circular downward currents that taper off in strength until they lose all power or hit the seabed.

A very strong storm has the potential to stir up the sand and uncover long lost treasures. In that same breath, it can destroy fragile artifacts before they are recovered. Either way, divers and salvors like Booty Salvage can have the chance to see parts of a sunken ship that were buried long ago. It also means that other shipwrecks could be reburied since the sand is shifted, not destroyed.

Beach Erosion

If a storm comes close enough to shore, sand can be taken out to sea. It all depends on the direction that the waves come to shore. According to Marty, one of our metal detecting experts, waves that come in at a 30-45 degree angle do the most damage to the shoreline. Sand loss on the beach is not good for those who live there but can be great for detectorists.

When it’s safe to travel to the beach, detectorists will be greeted with sand that has shifted and in turn the potential for new treasure. Saltwater beaches are known to be harder to hunt because of the mineralization which causes a lot of chatter. Depending on the detector, this greatly limits the depth that can be searched. The removed sand makes it so the deeper targets are now closer to the surface.

To maximize your experience, it is best to use a detector that is made with beach hunting in mind. They are designed to handle the mineralization from the salt so that they pick up on deeper targets without being too noisy.


Hurricanes are powerful forces of nature and should be taken seriously to stay safe. Once the all-clear is given, heading out with your detector can mean you find one of your best finds ever. As always, please be safe and obey local law enforcement. You are more important than anything you may find.

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