Treasure Hunting in Florida
In Florida there are two big draws for treasure hunting: silicified coral and buried treasure complete with gold doubloons and pieces of eight. Here are some of the best areas for finding treasure, in addition to some useful resources.
The famous silicified coral, first found in the Tampa Bay area around 1825 is the only gemstone of note from the State. Since its discovery in Tampa Bay, the agatized coral also has been found at Tarpon Springs, south of New Port Richey, near the town of Kathleen, and along the banks of the Suwanee River in Hamilton, Columbia, and Suwanee Counties. The material is found in two forms: as geodes, which represent partial replacement of coral; and as solid pieces which represent total replacement. It can be blue, red, brown, amber, white, black, or a combination of these colors.
Many Florida agatized coral locations, once open to collecting, are now closed. The best remaining collectible areas are along the causeway and beaches of Honeymoon Island State Park near Dunedin, the river bed and banks of the Suwannee River in the vicinity of and downstream from White Springs, and the bed of the Withlacoochee River near Clyattvillle, Georgia (just across the border from Florida).
River collecting is best during times of low water. In addition, small creek beds and quarries in many North Florida counties sometimes expose collectible agatized/silicified corals in small quantities.
Honeymoon Island is still a good bet for some interesting material. The agatized coral was dredged from the bottom of the bay during construction of the Caladesi Causeway in the late 1960s. Honeymoon Island is on the Gulf Coast of Florida, near the Tarpon Springs area. Drive to the northern-most point of the island and park at the northern point of the parking lot. You will see a little “hut” where you park. The best collecting for agatized black coral is to the left of the hut as you’re standing there with it in front of you. The best sea shells are to the right. You may only collect “uninhabited” sea shells, but can pick up as much coral as you like.
Gold Doubloons and Pieces of Eight
Head to Florida’s “Treasure Coast” to find gold doubloons and pieces of eight and other riches from the ill-fated Spanish 1715 Plate Fleet. The fleet of 11 Spanish galleons sank off of the east coast near Vero Beach after a violent hurricane. Note: It is called the “Plate” Fleet due to the abundance of silver it was carrying. The Spanish word for silver is plata.
After hurricanes and heavy storms, you can find old gold and silver coins which have been washed up on the beach. A lot of the lost treasure is buried under several feet of sand which is stripped away during storms. Don’t forget to bring your Bounty Hunter Gold Digger Metal Detector! Learn more about this location in the book True Stories of Sunken Treasure.
After tropical storms, Spanish coins have been washing up on the beach at Stump Pass, just southwest of Grove City. Spanish gold coins have also been found on the beach at Longboat Key near Sarasota.
Boca Raton, located south of Palm Beach, is the site of two separate treasures. It is said that Blackbeard buried $2,000 in casks near the Boca Raton Inlet, and DeLeon Springs is the location of a treasure chest lost by unknown persons.
The Florida Everglades is the area of a well-documented lost treasure. The Florida Keys is the best place to find treasure because of the Spanish shipwrecks. You can literally walk on a beach and find coins almost any day there. For more information, read the book Famous Shipwrecks of the Florida Keys.
For a list of places where there might be buried and sunken treasure in Florida, go to treasurelore.com.
There is an interesting National Geographic article about pirates (such as Jean LaFitte and Jose Gaspar) who roamed the Gulf of Mexico and are believed to have buried treasure throughout the area.