6 Best Underwater Metal Detectors In 2020 – (Under $200 to $1,000+)

Best Underwater Metal Detectors

Looking to find pirate’s loot or buried treasure beneath the ocean’s seabed? 

Hunting for gold, coins, and even artifacts where other detectorists dare not go is not an easy task.  You must have the right equipment. 

How much do underwater detectors cost?

Does waterproof mean the same as submersible? 

Can headphones work underwater? 

There’s a different list of criteria to look for versus a land-based metal detector.  For the wet terrains that may frizz out your go-to land-based detector like lakes, rivers, and oceans, here’s what you must know before you hit the docks. 

Best Underwater Metal Detectors

There are a different set of challenges when heading under water.  Visibility is reduced, diving gear can obscure audio, and swing technique and speed may be affected.  These are things to think about when you dare brave the conditions of being underwater. 

An underwater detector has a long list of demands to fulfill.  It must not only be waterproof; it must be submersible.  Most detectors under $1000 will be rated for submersion to 10-16 feet.  More expensive models will offer more depth. 

Even if you’re not diving or swimming with the fishes, if you plan on hunting waist-deep or higher, you must have a submersible machine.  Most detectors will provide some protection for shallow water detecting since the searchcoil and shaft are waterproof, but the coil connections to the control box and the control box itself are not.  Any trickle of water into these components can ruin your investment. 

There is a legitimate need for underwater detectors.  Fortunately, detectorists of all skill levels can justify buying one.  This lineup offers a range of models at different price points for some recreational underwater detecting fun to serious underwater detection for long-lost goods. 

Best Underwater Metal Detector Reviews

1. XP Deus

The XP Deus is a unique detector because it’s a dual-purpose machine – it can be used for both land-based and underwater detection.  However, beginners beware.  The XP is rated as an expert-level detector and there is very steep learning curve for those new to detecting and new to the Deus. 

Pros & Cons

✔️ 20 ft submersion

✔️ 3-element design

✔️ Wireless headphones

✔️ Selectable frequency

✔️ Adjustable user settings

❌ Steep learning curve

The Deus is the most expensive model in this lineup, but it has a load more to offer.  The searchcoil is rated to 20 feet, but the remote control as is, is not waterproof.  What’s the catch?  You must purchase the underwater kit for the Deus that provides submersible protection for the other components.  With it, you can explore deeper than most other detectors can. 

The Deus is also unique with its 3-element design.  The searchcoil, headphones, and remote control have their own independent digital signal processor and power source.  They communicate via digital radio link.  With this setup, you can use the searchcoil and remote control or the searchcoil and headphones as a complete platform.  

This XP detector has smart coils that offer a variation of multiple frequencies from 4-80 kHz.  However, the Deus itself is a selectable frequency detector, so only a single frequency can be in operation at a time. 

Multiple user settings and an Expert Mode allow for professional and advanced users to make the most of their detector and achieving their target goals.  With so much to offer, there will be much to learn. 

2. Garrett Sea Hunter Mark II

Incredibly, the Sea Hunter Mark II is a pulse induction metal detector that’s priced under $1000.  It’s specifically made for underwater use, but who says you can’t use it on land? 

Pros & Cons

✔️ 200 ft submersion

✔️ Pulse induction

✔️ Knob controls

✔️ Adjustable length

✔️ Price

❌ Short warranty period

The Sea Hunter is only warrantied for one year by the manufacturer.  For a detector that will be facing challenging conditions from being under water, you’ll want to take extra measures for care and maintenance. 

The Mark II detector is rated to be submersed up to 200 feet underwater.  With these depths, you’ll be able to go diving and retract the length to best fit your needs.  The knob controls make for easy adjustments while it’s submerged, but it means you lack a digital display for visual data.  When you’re down that deep, visual data would be difficult to use anyway.  Good thing the included headphones and the jack are waterproof. 

As a pulse induction detector, its strength lies with depth detection and sensitivity, but its weaknesses lie with discrimination.  While there is some level of discrimination, it’s still basically a one-tone detector where your most powerful discriminator is your shovel. 

You’re getting a lot of bang for your buck with the Sea Hunter Mark II.  Incredible submersion depth, pulse induction, and dependable quality from a brand you can trust with detectors made in the USA. 

3. Nokta Makro Anfibio Multi

The Anfibio Multi is a dual-purpose detector that can easily be used on land and in the water without fear of damage to the detector.  It has all the fixings necessary to dub it a do-it-all machine. 

Pros & Cons

✔️ 16.4 ft submersion

✔️ Selective frequency

✔️ Vibration

✔️ Single Menu Display

✔️ EUD

❌ Not multi-frequency

There is a lot of confusion between multi and single frequency detectors, and marketing jargon doesn’t help any.  Although the Anfibio has multiple frequencies at its disposal, it can only use one at a time defining it a single frequency detector.  True multi-frequency detectors function simultaneously. 

This model has three single frequencies: 5/14/20 kHz.  Each type of frequency will help you home in on coins, fine jewelry, and maybe even gold nuggets.  The Anfibio is priced attractively for the detector who wants a single machine that does it all.  It’s submersible to 16.4 feet, has nine preset search modes, and expert user adjustable settings. 

You’ll find the single menu display a very attractive feature since it eliminates the need for having to flip through multiple screens to make an adjustment.  Save time mucking around and more time digging up treasure.  The vibration feature will also prove helpful when underwater for that extra confirmation that you’ve hit metal.

EUD stands for Extreme Underground Depth.  It’s like an All Metal mode with its single tone and no discrimination, but it shines in areas with high mineralization where good targets are often obscured by false signals and chatter. 

While the Anfibio itself is completely waterproof, you’ll want to make sure you buy some waterproof headphones as the land-based ones that are included will not survive the dive.  Expecting a detector to do it on land and sea is a tall order to fill.  Fortunately, the Anfibio is up to the task. 

4. Garrett AT Pro

The AT Pro is a very popular metal detector that many use as the standard for all-purpose metal detecting.  Its price point may be the reason that it’s held in high regard. 

Pros & Cons

✔️ 10 ft submersion

✔️ Pro Mode Audio

✔️ Iron Audio

✔️ Auto & manual GB

✔️ Price

❌ Not for saltwater use

The AT Pro isn’t specifically designed for saltwater use, but there are ways around this.  It’s equipped with both auto and manual ground balance, and manual may be the best method to use at the beach when you’re planning on using it underneath the waves.  Negatively bias ground balance and reduce sensitivity.  Of course, there will be disadvantages to this, but you’ll soon figure out how you can best adapt to beach conditions. 

But, the beach isn’t the only underwater area you can explore.  Many riverbeds and creeks where you could end up waist-high may be hiding relics and gold nuggets.  If you’re a seasoned detectorist, you can take advantage of the Proportional Audio mode that allows you to interpret more information from the signal. 

If you’re relic hunting or coin shooting, the Iron Audio features will certainly have value as it helps to better define trash items from good ones based on the signal pitch and any changes heard within the tone.  You can also precisely locate a target with the electronic pinpointer. 

The AT Pro is another do-it-all detector that allows for hunting on land and in water.  At its price point, it’s no wonder why it’s desired by all. 

5. Nokta Makro Simplex+

The Simplex+ is a metal detector made for all, but beginners will be immediately attracted to its low price point and will soon come to recognize value in its features. 

Pros & Cons

✔️ 10 ft submersion

✔️ WHP package

✔️ Dual-purpose

✔️ Iron Audio

✔️ Notch Discrimination

❌ Battery life

The Simplex+ operates up to a maximum of 12 hours.  There’s a lot going on, so it should be assumed that it’s going to require a lot more juice.  But, it will be a productive 12 hours since the Simplex has much to offer. 

It’s submersible to 10 feet, and if you purchase the Simplex+ WHP package, you’ll also receive wireless waterproof headphones.  To aid with underwater use, the display has a backlit screen and the control box has an LED flashlight on the back. 

The Simplex has all the favorite features you’d expect to see on a low-cost detector from Target ID to multiple search modes.  However, it’s not like any other affordable detector out there.  It also offers Iron Audio which is not often seen on budget models.  This allows you to increase and decrease signals from iron objects without having to notch them out and thus slow down the system. 

Notch is another feature to appreciate as you can cherry pick what types of metals you want to accept or reject to customize your search.  It’s also incredibly lightweight, has adjustable sensitivity, and automatic and manual ground balancing.  It literally has it all.  Priced so low for its capabilities, the Simplex+ is worth the buy. 

6. Nalanda MD027

NALANDA 40M Underwater Metal Detector with All Metal,Disc and Pinpoint Modes, LED Indicator, Stable Detection Depth, Automatic Tuning, Variable Tones for Professional Buried Treasure Hunting
20 Reviews
NALANDA 40M Underwater Metal Detector with All Metal,Disc and Pinpoint Modes, LED Indicator, Stable Detection Depth, Automatic Tuning, Variable Tones for Professional Buried Treasure Hunting
  • 【Fully Waterproof Detector Up to 40m Submerged】 Good quality, sturdy construction with a fully sealed control box for a whole waterproof up to 40m. Whether you're planning on search for hidden treasure at the beach, ocean, Local River, or want to add entirely new finds and extra exciting and fun in metal detecting underwater, this will be your best choice.

The Nalanda MD027 is specifically made for treasure hunting under water.  This is about as cheap as it gets, and even then, this is still incredibly low for true underwater machine.  If you have a tight budget, this model is the answer to your prayers. 

✔️ 40 m submersion

✔️ Knob controls

✔️ Audio tones

✔️ LED indicators

✔️ Pinpoint

❌ Preset GB

Right off the bat, the Nalanda is very limited when it comes to ground balance.  It’s preset at the factory with no ability to adjust it on the fly.  This may be of concern when you hit mineralized areas like black sand and saltwater.  However, the Nalanda does have adjustable sensitivity to help with chatter.  It might also be helpful to know that the detector works at a very low 2.4 kHz and comes with an 8.5” searchcoil.  These factors may help with better detection in mineralized soils and electronic pinpoint will get you on target. 

As a detector that can retract all the way down to 12”, has knob controls, and LED indicators, it’s obvious it was made for underwater use.  The short length lends itself to divers, the knobs controls make for easy adjustments, and LED indicators will prove efficient when audio tones are masked by the noise of scuba equipment. 

Even though you have LED lights to rely on for signal interpretation, the Nalanda detector also provides three audio tones: low, medium, and high.  The included headphones are waterproof, and there is also a small speaker on the control box if you’re using it for land-based hunting like on the sand without headphones attached.

For an underwater metal detector at such a cheap price point, it’s a winner.  Even with its other perks, it still sits higher than the rest in its price range.  The Nalanda is a keeper. 

What to Look for in an Underwater Metal Detector

An underwater detector will have additional features that a land-based detector wouldn’t typically need.  But, what are those features, and will they cost more?  Here’s what you need to know before you put on the flippers and trunks. 

Price/Budget

Underwater detectors are considered specialty detectors the same way you would consider a gold detector a specialty machine.  While its submersion rate has a lot to do with its performance, it’s additional features that trump up the price.  Determining what features you need will justify how much you’re willing to spend.  In setting a budget, consider the following. 

  • How deep underwater you plan on taking the detector
  • The geology and mineralization of your prospective hunting sites (e.g. freshwater or saltwater)
  • What are the target objects/metals?
  • Waterproof accessories needed

Most detectors in the market will provide some level of waterproofness, but underwater detectors that are submersible will start around the $500 price range.  They will have features equivalent to an upper entry-level metal detector with submersion depths of 10-16 feet.  When spending over $1000, you’ll be looking at pulse induction detectors, 20 feet or more submersion depth, and additional features that improve detector performance. 

Waterproof VS Submersible

Can waterproof metal detectors be submerged underwater?  No.  Waterproofness usually refers to a waterproof searchcoil and shaft.  These types of detectors are fine to use in shallow water and depths that don’t compromise electrical components attaching to and within the control box.  Headphones supplied with these detectors are land-based and are not waterproof.  Extra care should be taken such as do not lift the searchcoil above the control box when wet and do not splash around the control box. 

Submersible detectors can be taken underwater – searchcoil, control box, headphones and all.  However, submersible depths and protection will vary between models and manufacturers.  Sometimes the control box can be submerged but the included headphones cannot.  Look for packages that include waterproof headphones, waterproof headphone jacks, and waterproof/sealed-off battery compartments. 

Underwater VS Beach Use

Can underwater metal detectors be used at the beach? 

Yes and no.  It will depend on the type of metal detector you have and its capabilities.  Underwater metal detectors will do just fine in freshwater sites, but the beach is unique.  Saltwater, wet sand, and black sand pose different challenges to a metal detector. 

However, a beach metal detector may not be rated to be submersible.  It may be a VLF detector that is fine for use within the ‘towel line’ on dry sand, but it may not perform as expected once it hits saltwater or it may only provide waterproofness good enough for a couple feet.  So, it might be good enough for shallow water, but it can’t be submerged. 

So, can an underwater detector be used at the beach?  Depends on the beach.  If it’s black sand, a VLF with adjustable ground balance may prove to be worthwhile as it can discriminate from trash and iron signals from black sand.  If you’re spending more time in the water and are experienced enough to go gold prospecting, a PI would best suit your needs.  The point is, a beach detector isn’t always suitable for underwater use, and an underwater detector isn’t always equipped with the features necessary for successful detection at the beach.  Always prioritize what you need first for the hunting sites you plan to visit and look for the detector that fits the bill. 

Garrett Sea Hunter Mark II Review

Metal Detector Features

We’ve covered what it means to have a submersible detector, but there are additional features that will help with detection around water sites.  Some things to look for are:

  • Potentiometers/Knob Controls – Knobs are usually used when a detector lacks a digital interface.  Some of the most advanced underwater models will lack a display to provide ultimate submersion protection and improve user experience when underwater and handling with gloves.  Entry-level models will also incorporate knobs.  If your detector has an LCD display, it’s important to research if it’s fully waterproof, submersible, or if it needs additional accessories in order to be used around water. 
  • Visual Indicators – When there is no LCD display for visual information, you’ll be depending on audio alone.  However, some detectors may have LED lights that serve as visual indicators which can be easier to see when underwater.  It’s also helpful for great depths when you can’t hear audio tones over breathing equipment when diving. 
  • Adjustable User Settings – If you want ultimate control over your detector to address any challenge that comes your way from fresh and saltwater hunting, you should look for adjustable user settings.  This can include automatic and manual ground balance, adjustable sensitivity, adjustable threshold, enhanced iron functions, and more.  These are usually associated with higher-end models and intended for advanced users. 
  • VLF VS PI – Your choice of operating system may narrow down the options.  VLF (Very Low Frequency) machines are cheaper, provide accurate discrimination, and may be easier for beginners to use.  However, they’re likely to have trouble in mineralized ground.  PIs (Pulse Induction) detectors can conquer mineralized ground easily, but they suffer with providing accurate discrimination.  The shovel will be your best friend with a PI. 

Safety Tips for Metal Detecting Underwater

When you’re hunting below the surface, there are hidden dangers lurking around every stone or silently working against you.  Be prepared. 

You should start with having the right gear and this means more than just having an underwater detector.  Sharp stones and rocks, trash, glass, and coral can do a number on your feet.  The appropriate type of water shoes for your hunting site is paramount.  Having a mesh bag attached to your hip will help with gathering and keeping your newfound items safe.  If you’re hunting at the beach, a sand sifter or sand scoop will filter out the sand and other unwanted minerals while retaining the detected items. 

A strong, locking shaft on the detector can help with balance and dependable use while underwater.  A chest harness or hip mount may be in order if your detector is heavy and you plan on using it for land-based detecting too. 

You should also consider tidal movement.  For your own safety, be aware of when the tide is moving out.  Sand moves with the tide, so it’s reasonable to assume it’ll also move treasures and allow for better visibility of the seabed.  Summer is a great season for metal detectorists as beachgoers and tourists are out and lose belongings all the time.  It’s also warmer and the days are longer allowing you to stay out and hunt for as long as you can manage it.  If you’re heading underwater in the Winter, be sure to acquire the appropriate swim gear to protect yourself from hypothermia and other complications.

Nalanda MD027 Metal Detector

FAQs

Can Metal Detectors Work Underwater?

Yes!  Most waterproof metal detectors cannot work under water, but submersible metal detectors can.  They’re made differently to provide waterproof protection to the entire detector including the control box and headphones.  The interface will vary between models and manufacturers as many land detectorists may be accustomed to a digital display and many underwater models incorporate other indicators to signal positive detection like LED lights and vibration.  

How Much Does an Underwater Metal Detector Cost?

The price varies significantly between models, and of course, brand.  Underwater detectors from authoritative brands will start around $500-$700.  There are many that will suffice for 10-20 ft that are under $1000.  More expensive models can offer more depth, and they’ll also have advanced user settings that allows customizable user control in challenging conditions. 

Which is the Best Waterproof Metal Detector?

If you’re defining the best waterproof metal detector as the one that can go the deepest, the Nalanda MD027 is one of the cheapest detectors with an incredible depth of 40 meters.  The XP Deus which costs significantly more has advanced features and a max depth of about 20 feet.  And yet, the Garrett Sea Hunter Mark II has a price tag in the middle with pulse induction technology and a depth of 200 feet.  The best detector will be the one that fits your budget and has the features you need to fulfill your goals.  

What is the Range of a Metal Detector?

Most land-based and underwater metal detectors will provide a depth range of 2-10”.  They’re defined as surface exploration metal detectors.  However, there are several factors of the target and the detector that affect depth detection. 

PIs are known for greater depth detection, but VLF models can also come with searchcoils and additional attachments that can increase the depth range. 

Snorkel Away!

Going underwater for lost and buried treasure is a completely new world of metal detecting. 

Whether you’re wading above the tide, snorkeling below the surface, or diving deep, a metal detector can help you find ancient artifacts, stolen treasure, and nuggets that have been carried away from the mother lode. 

If you’re curious to know what lays beneath your wading feet, an underwater metal detector will help you discover what has long been forgotten or not yet discovered. 

Further Reading

Last update on 2020-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About Simon Owen

I’m Simon and I love finding things. From a young age I always had the knack to find coins, notes, wallets and more. All of that was without the use of technology. I look forward to sharing with you some amazing tech that will make your treasure hunt a lot easier.