The roads have soft shoulders (tracks of vehicles can be seen in this picture). Signs warn against getting stuck off the road
In addition, the FAQ says.
1. The refuge is open daylight hours only (1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset). The comfort station, located at the Visitor Center, is open 24 hours/day. Night time surf fishing is allowed September 15 – May 31 annually and requires a permit.
2. All pets must be properly confined,
leashed (10 foot maximum), or haltered and under
physical control by the owner at all times. Pets are not
allowed outside the vehicle west of NC Highway 12
except in parking areas.
3. Neither camping nor fires are allowed on the refuge.
4. Vehicles are prohibited on refuge beaches. This includes passenger vehicles, all terrain vehicles, bicycles, all other vehicles (motorized or nonmotorized), and horses. This regulation does not apply to wheelchairs. Vehicles are allowed on designated roadways (NC 12 Right-of-Way) and parking areas only.
5. Feeding of Wildlife: It is illegal to feed, injure or disturb wildlife on the refuge.
In addition the refuge webpage adds:
# Littering or dumping of garbage, refuse, sewage, debris, or other wastes or poisons is prohibited.
# Destroying, damaging, disturbing, or removing any property, including a natural object or artifact, is prohibited. The use or possession of metal detectors or similar devices is prohibited.
# Carrying, possessing, or discharging firearms, fireworks, or explosives, cross bows, bows and arrows, air guns, spears, gigs, or other weapons is prohibited. . Firearms may be possessed, used, or transported only by persons engaged in public hunting or by persons carrying unloaded firearms that are either dismantled or cased.
# Fishing is subject to State and local regulations. Only the use of pole and line, rod and reel, or cast net is permitted. (Hunting is not allowed.)
# Traveling outside of designated routes of travel is prohibited. ATV's (3-wheelers, 4-wheelers, dirt bikes, etc.) are prohibited.
4X4's are not permitted on Pea Island beaches. This is a National Wildlife Refuge so please follow the rules and only access the beach at designated areas.
Check this link for beach saftey tips and up to date map of ramp locations.
From the Oregon Inlet down the 1st ramp is located in Rodanthe.
There are some very long stretches in the Outer Banks where ther is nothing around but sand dunes and salt marsh. Hatteras Island which covers from the Oregon Inlet Bridge to the bottom of Hatteras village there are 2 long stretches and a few small. Along the side of the road the sand is very soft and you will have your car stuck. now you have to try to get a tow truck, because you can't dig you way out of this one! So you may be tempted to pull off and take a few photos, DON'T, it's a trick, just pull off in ine of the parking lots provided. I never did pull off, but it does cross your mind, ooh there's a good shot!