In our previous blog posts, we’ve discussed some rare coins and precious metals that you might find in your everyday life. But if you want to get serious about finding treasure, eventually you’ll have to head outside and start looking. But what do treasure-hunting hopefuls do if there aren’t any historic sites or gold mines in their area? They go on vacation.
Read on to find five of the most popular vacation spots for treasure hunters–both nationally and internationally. With a backpack, the right equipment, and a little perseverance, you too might find beautiful treasures to add to your collection, even when you’re away from home.
1. United States: Tonopah, Nevada
If jewelry is your weakness, visit the family-owned Royston Turquoise Mine in Tonopah, Nevada. While they do not allow visitors to dig within the mine itself, you can watch the workings of the mine and (for a fee) dig through the tailing piles of small turquoise deposits. Make sure to bring sunscreen (especially in summer months), plenty of water, thick gloves, and your own digging tools.
2. United States: Murfreesboro, Arkansas
Although this small-town destination might not seem to offer you more than a weekend’s worth of solitude, Murfreesboro also has some hidden gems-literally. At Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas residents and visitors alike can search for diamonds and take them home as a souvenir.
Most famously, a man from Texas managed to uncover a white diamond that weighed over 16 carats during his family vacation, which he then had reshaped into a 7.5-carat marquis and set as a jewelry piece.
For the fee of admission, you and your family can rake through the rich soil in search of diamonds. Remember to bring your own shovels, sieves, and buckets to sift through the dirt; otherwise you’ll have to rent them at the park.
3. United States: Coalinga, California
Located minutes off the I-5, the California town of Coalinga is home to the California State Gem Mine. Open by reservation only, the mine staff will supply you with the basic materials to look for benitoite, California’s official state gem. Just two years ago, a tourist from Austria found a piece of benitoite in the shape of a five-pointed star.
All visitors are permitted to take home a quart-sized bag filled with their finds at the end of the day.
4. Canada: Oak Island, Nova Scotia
The island of Nova Scotia features gorgeous seascapes, scenic hikes, and sail boats that dot the horizon. But it is also home to the site of the world’s longest continuous treasure hunt, a conquest that dates back as early as 1857. This 60-meter-deep depression is known as the Money Pit. It is either believed to contain buried pirate treasure or, if it is a natural phenomenon, nothing at all.
Excavations have taken place in various forms for decades; as recently as 2011, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources granted a treasure hunting license to the owners of the island. The Friends of Oak Island Society offers walking tours of this mysterious island which include sights such as the infamous Money Pit.
5. Papua New Guinea: Misima Island
In the late 19th century, gold was discovered on Misima Island, then a territory of the British Empire. Mining of gold and silver began in the early 20th century, and continued under the control of an international corporation until environmental and public health concerns led to the mine’s closure in 2004. Since then, small-scale mining operations have continued as a major source of income on the island.
Today, the best way to explore the mining areas is through an organized tour.
When you return from your dream vacation—whether you’re just a state or an entire hemisphere away—take your spoils to a coin or precious metals dealer. They can appraise the value of your find, and then you can decide whether to keep it for your collection, put it into a unique piece of jewelry, or sell it. No matter what you choose, you’re sure to make memories for a lifetime when you visit one of these five treasure hunting destinations.