Visitors to Florida, who want to do some metal detecting while on vacation, often ask where they can and cannot search. Although most are interested in beach detecting, there are some people also interested in their inland detecting options also.
Off-limit areas include all National Parks and all State Parks. Most of these are inland, but some may have a swimming area with a sandy beach. The beach, in this case, would be off-limits also. Sebastian Inlet State Park is an exception. A portion of this State Park has beach frontage on the Atlantic Ocean. Metal detecting is permitted on the beach, but not inland of the dunes.
One area that attracts a lot of visitors with metal detectors is the Treasure Coast, famous for the gold coins and precious gems that often wash up on shore. This area runs along the coast from Floridana Beach to south of Fort Pierce beach. In general, you can search the beach between the base of the dunes to the average water line. However, you cannot use a metal detector in the water. Refer to the article “Florida Metal Detecting: Sunken Treasures of the Spanish Galleons” for more information and specific locations.
In general, metal detecting is permitted on most of Florida’s coastal beaches. There are a few locations where a beachfront hotel or condo association will post a Private Property sign on the beach. Even though they have no legal right to do so, and you could search there, it’s better to avoid a confrontation. It’s not worth the hassle and possible legal expense.
Inland, there are many County parks that allow metal detecting. But there are some that are not friendly toward metal detecting. Pasco County, north of Tampa, is an example of an area to avoid. Always read the Rules and Regulations that are posted at the entrance to a park. If metal detecting is not permitted, it will be listed. Some County parks may require a permit to metal detect. Fort DeSoto park, south of St. Petersburg, requires such a permit. They do this in order to let you know that certain areas are off-limits because the park was once a bombing range.
Most town or city parks permit metal detecting if you do not disturb the local residents whose taxes pay for the park. The local police may approach you and request that you leave if you are not a local resident, or if you are digging holes that negatively affect the landscape. Again, read any signs that you see in the park. Even though metal detecting may not be listed, there may be a rule that bans digging..
Metal detecting in Florida is great fun that can be very rewarding personally and sometimes financially. Always fill any hole that you dig, even if it’s on the beach.