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Treasure Hunting Vacation: Gold Coins and Pirate Loot on the Florida Beaches 
by Nancy A. Meadows-Galloway June 17, 2005

A treasure hunting vacation could be a very lucrative escape. Not only will it be fun but who knows you just might also strike it rich. So get your metal detector, loot bag, and lots of sunscreen and get to digging! Good luck! Who has not dreamed of walking along the beach and finding an old coin worth lots of money? This dream could come true on a treasure hunting vacation to the Florida coast.

Treasure Lost

Florida has always been known as a treasure hunter’s paradise thanks to famous lost treasures such as the treasure of Gasparilla and the Amelia Island treasure to name just a few.

Gasparilla’s Treasure

Gasparilla was a famous pirate known for his ruthlessness and cunning. He is said to have looted millions of dollars in treasure from different vessels throughout his years as a pirate and buried them throughout the islands that surround Charlotte Harbor. In all, he supposedly buried 13 casks and chests of treasure in and around his headquarters at Boca Grande, later named Gasparilla Island.

Gasparilla employed hundreds of pirates to his work and in turn their shares of loot are also buried on the islands around Charlotte Harbor as well.

Taking a treasure hunting vacation to Charlotte Harbor could be very profitable. Choose any island and go to work since he buried treasure on most of them and it has yet to be found. Equipment needed: shovel, metal detector, and map of area. Also some extra research would help insure success in your hunting.

The Amelia Island Treasure

Amelia Island lies on Florida’s northeastern coast and is the location of many pirate’s booty.

This island was used at one time as the headquarters for several notable pirates including Blackbeard, LaFitte, Aury and Kidd. Approximately $170,000 in treasure has been found in the past years on the island. This is only a small portion of what is estimated to still be buried there. Equipment needed for finding this treasure would be: a metal detector, shovel, map of the area and a little research at the local historical society would help to possibly narrow your search area.

Black Caesar’s Treasure

Another pirate who made his headquarters near Charlotte Harbor was Black Caesar. A former slave, he managed to escape to the west coast of Florida. Not soon after his escape he became the leader of a band of pirates with his headquarters based on

Sanibel Island

His hoard of treasure is said to be buried on Sanibel Island. Equipment needed: shovel, metal detector, and map of area. Some extra research at the local library or historical society would help insure success in your hunting for this treasure.

Steinhatchee River Treasure

Legend has it that there are three Civil War treasures buried along the Steinhatchee River where it empties into Dead Man’s Bay in Taylor County. The crew of a Confederate blockade-runner buried $500,000 in silver along the river close to where it meets Dead Man’s Bay.

Another crew of a blockade-runner is said to have buried $140,000 gold coins while they were hiding near the mouth of the river. They did this because of a Federal gunboat that was slowly approaching.

Union soldiers were said to have buried a cache of gold coins five miles from the mouth of the river.

The Pirate Louis Aury’s Treasure

Louis Aury, the notorious pirate, is said to have buried several chests near a freshwater spring on a small bluff in Clearwater Bay. Legend also has it that he buried loot on the Anclote River as well as on Honeymoon Island and Sea Horse Key.

It is also known that he buried a chest on Amelia Island, after he took it over as his headquarters, containing an estimated $60,000 in treasure.

Treasure Found

Throughout history many ships have been lost and so has much treasure. We are always hearing tales of pirate treasure waiting to be found but do we ever hear of someone actually finding it. Here are a few tales of people who have been lucky enough to find treasure.

The Homer Ludwig Treasure

In 1870 a German immigrant named Homer Ludwig jumped ship at Key West. For 20 years he worked as the town’s handyman scraping out a living by doing odd jobs for people. Most of his spare time was spent studying the history of Key West.

In 1890 Homer bought a small boat. He explained, to those who asked, the reason for the boat was that he wanted to go treasure hunting He claimed to have learned the location of a chest containing gold coins. It was said that the chest had belonged to the captain of a doomed ship. The captain, trying to save the treasure, had brought it ashore and buried it in the sand intending to return for it later, but he never did.

Homer set sail in his small boat and was not seen for some years until one day he was sighted at Key Largo. He had built a small shack out of drift wood and palm fronds. The old man had been living on Key Largo for five years before anyone figured out how he was getting his money. As it turns out Homer had been selling gold and silver coins, a few at a time, to a coin dealer in Miami in order to buy the things that he needed.

One day in 1909 Homer decided to make another trip to Miami so he got into his boat and readied it for the journey. Some fishermen who noticed that he was making ready to sail told Homer of an impending storm. Homer was undaunted and sailed on anyway. The last time his boat was seen he was heading north towards Miami, but he never made it. The storm came in and the old man was never seen again.

Somewhere on Key Largo the rest of the Spanish treasure is waiting for someone to find and claim it again.

The La Madalena Treasure

A shrimp boat snagged a bronze cannon from the galleon La Madalena in its nets off the coast of Florida.

The La Madalena went down in 1563 in a storm and was said to be carrying 50 tons of silver bullion and coins, boxes of worked silver (candlestick holders, plates, ect.) and also 1,110 pounds of gold.

Within a five mile radius of where the cannon was discovered another shrimp boat snagged a chest, containing 3000 Spanish coins, in its net.

Brevard County Treasure

In October of 2004, gold and silver coins were discovered on some of the beaches Brevard County, Fl. After an intense hurricane season sand was washed away in certain areas where the ground underneath had not been exposed for centuries. The coins had been buried for nearly 300 years before being found.

The treasure is thought to have come from the 1715 Spanish fleet that went down off the coast of Florida in a storm. All of the ships sank and some were never found. The majority of the ships were thought to have sunk off the coasts of Indian River and St. Lucia Counties but the recent finds on of the coins have changed that thinking.

Some of the treasure found so far on Brevard County beaches are 20 silver coins valued at 1,000 each and four gold coins valued at 20,000 a piece found by a local resident. Another Brevard County resident found 38 silver coins.

The Treasure Is Out There!

The treasure is out there all you have to do is take the time to do a little research and then a little digging. As it has been proven by these stories you can find the treasure it just takes patience and persistence. There are still many other treasures that were not listed waiting to be found.


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