The beaches on hatteras island ocracoke are spectacular. How spectacular? ocracoke is not longer rated by Dr. Beach, Steve Leatherman, who is considered the preeminent world authority on beaches. The reason it is no longer included is because in 2007 it was rated #1 in the US and when a beach is ranked #1 it comes off the list.
Hatteras consistently makes his top ten list, so it's not far behind.
Hatteras beaches tend to be wide with very soft sand. Toward the north end, around Rodanthe the sand tends to be a little more coarse, but all of the beaches are wonderful.
Most of Hatteras Island is part of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, although the northern end is part of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and is administered by US Fish & Wildlife. The National Park Service offers two lifeguard patrolled beaches:Hatteras Island: Cape Hatteras lighthouse Beach, next to the Old Cape Hatteras Lighthouse site and on Ocracoke Island at the Ocracoke Day Use Beach about a half mile north of Ocracoke Village.
Dare County just completed a beach access bathhouse and parking lot in Rodanthe. The site may be the best on the outer banks.
For anyone using National Park Service beaches, there are restrictions in some areas. Look for roped off dunes and beaches with signs warning that the area is a habitat site, usually for piping plover, sometimes the American oyster catcher. Do not enter those areas. Park rangers will issue citations are even the most casual incursion and since the areas are clearly marked and easily avoided there is no reason to enter.