Doing your first Geocaching.com search is like entering a world that you did not even know existed. Simply typing in your location will, in most circumstances, result in a list of many caches in your immediate area being returned. When this happens, some people will have an almost overwhelming desire to rush out and attempt to find the first cache on the list. My suggestion would be that you curb your enthusiasm for awhile and take a closer look at the list. There are many different types of caches at different levels of difficulty. The first cache on the list may therefore not be ideally suited if you’re only just starting out with geocaching. You should therefore spend some time to interpret the list before deciding on your target.
There are many different ways of searching for a cache. These include:
Postal code: This is perhaps the most popular way of searching for geocaches. Simply type in your postal code and a list of caches organised in terms of their distance from the centre of the postal code area will pop up. Postal code searches are available for most countries where codes are linked to relatively small geographical areas.
State/country/province: This is a good way of searching if you are unfamiliar with a country, state or province. Using this search function will normally bring up a list of regions or cities within these entities, thus allowing you to narrow down your search.
Keyword: It is sometimes the case that you remember something of the name of a cache, but not its location or any other details. If you are faced with this situation the keyword search function should lead you to the right cache in a relatively short time.
Username: If you particularly enjoyed searching for a cache that was placed by a specific person, you can easily bring up his/her other creations by doing a username based search.
Map: Geocaching.com is fully integrated with Google Maps. This means that you can navigate to a specific area on the map and see a visual presentation of where caches were placed in the vicinity. Making use of this function can take some of the guesswork out of the geocaching process as it will give you a good idea of the type of area, access roads and distance from amenities. You can even get a feel for the topography of the area by switching from the plain map view to satellite view.
Waypoint name: Each geocache that is listed on Geocaching.com is assigned a unique code. This code can then be entered as a waypoint on your GPS device. If you know the waypoint code of a cache, but nothing else, you can do a search by typing it in and the site will return all the relevant information.
Address: It is possible to do address-based searches in many countries. Simply enter the address and the site will work out approximate coordinates and return the results accordingly.
Geocache type: There are many different types of caches. This function allows you to only look for a particular type of cache (e.g. micro-caches).
Coordinates: If you have the coordinates of a specific location you can enter it and the search will return a list of nearby caches.
It should be clear from the above that there are many different ways of searching for geocaches. All of this variety does not mean, however, that this is a complicated activity. You will find that the process becomes easier and more natural after even just one or two attempts.