I lucked out on my first time to Myrtle Beach. I chose Labor Day weekend to visit a friend about an hour away, but surprisingly there was a very small crowd at the beach. I know that on a normal weekend--especially Labor Day--it would normally be much more crowded, but I arrived the weekend that gas prices rose to over $3.09 per gallon.
The beach was very nice and relatively clean. The water was warm, and it was very relaxing just walking around on the beach. I will say that it is rather commercialized, with an ocean in front and rows of multi-story hotels behind, but the feel of the ocean is still there. If you are looking for places to relax away from it all Myrtle Beach is not the place. But if you like shops, restaurants, hotels, and fun, Myrtle Beach is the spot!