It’s easy to get the idea while on you beach metal detecting vacation that you’re the only one digging there and you have the whole thing to yourself. This is simply not true, every beach gets hit every day by someone. It’s huge, complicated place that changes daily, so don’t panic, there’s plenty of room for everyone.
Detectorists fall in 2 two basic categories, tourists and locals. The tourist are easy to spot, land metal detectors, ill equipped and digging massive craters to nowhere. The locals usually have water machines, proper clothing and tools, though you might not see them very often.
The reasons you don’t usually see the locals is because they know this beach way better than you ever will, they often have favorite spots that are productive and usually only work hour before to an hour after low tide. And by the way, there are two low tides a day…
Most beaches don’t close at night, unlike the city park. There are usually people out enjoying their vacation all night long. So while you’ve been roasting in the sun all day digging holes in the sand, the local diggers are sitting comfortably at home in the A/C, waiting for the over night low tide.
And this provides one of the most unique metal detecting experiences anywhere, night hunt on the beach. On a clear warm night this can be a truly amazing hunt, just downright epic.
You don’t really need any special tools or lights for this. In fact, it’s an opportunity for you to forge a new kind of relationship with your metal detector. Unless you have a back lit display, you’re not going to be able to see the VDI. This isn’t remotely the handicap it would seem. It allows you a chance to simply listen to the tones and get a better understanding of what the machine is telling you.
You should be digging everything above iron on the beach anyways, what difference does the VDI even make?
Between the moon and the hotels, businesses and homes along the beach, there is enough light to make your way around without stumbling. Target recovery takes a little bit of practice though. A small flashlight comes in handy for this.
The huge advantage isn’t just cool ocean breezes instead of blazing sun roasting your head, nor the occasional live band playing at the local tavern to provide a sound track to your adventure, the real reason to go dark is SPACE.
All those areas that just a few hours ago were packed with sunbathers, tents full of families with way too many obnoxious kids and cranky old ladies whining about everything…that’s all gone, now it’s just wide open space with a few stragglers here and there, young lovers and drunk co-eds on spring break.
It can be difficult to know what you’ve dug, just toss it in the bucket and keep rolling. This is fun back at the hotel to go through it all and see what you’ve got.
Those patterns that worked during the day aren’t always as useful at night, especially overcast, moonless nights or when you start getting farther away from the hotels and things start to get much darker. The primary area though for a beach metal detecting vacation should be the upper beach, all those areas that areas too packed to hunt during the day. Here you’ll have better lighting and won’t have to fiddle with the settings on the detector as much. Just run your favorite pattern like any other land site. You can still hit the wet sands tomorrow, but for now focus on all this open space.
If you’re very lucky, you arrive on the right night, on a beach that’s very dark you may catch a glimpse of something truly otherworldly…glowing sand. No, it’s not radiation, it’s something far more interesting. On certain special nights during the year, when you dig a hole the sand will light up with a faint, eerie greenish glow and as you walk along, look behind and you’ll see your footsteps glowing the same green for a few seconds.
This is actually caused by a microscopic jelly fish that has it’s own bio-luminescence. And just like stepping on a lightening bug will cause it to glow, the same thing is occurring here. At certain times of the year, under the right conditions, these tiny creatures bloom into the billions just off shore then are carried in on the tide and deposited in the beach sands. For a few days around the time of the jellyfish bloom, the sand will actually glow as you dig, even during the day, the light simply too faint to be seen in the sun, but the effect can be very dramatic on dark, moonless night.
Read More: Beach Hunting 101, Filling in your Holes.