This beach is really overrated. It fills up with tourists and kooks really quickly, although as soon as it gets to about 5 or 6 foot it quietens down, as they can't paddle out. I'd recommend trying elsewhere, especially in the summer.
This beach is probably one of the best known beaches in Europe. It is the centre of British Surfing hosting many of the major events in Europe including ASP and Pro Tour Competitions. This beach can hold any size and is rideable at nearly anything that it gets, believe me this beach picks up nearly any swell. This beach has good facilities including shops and a restaurant. It will benefit from the new surf centre that is in the pipeline which includes training facilities, restaurant, viewing platform etc. This is the sort of investment that Cornwall and British surfing needs to give it better credit within the world surfing fraternity. If you are visiting Cornwall for a surf trip this beach is a must. The only bad point about the beach is parking, due to the large amount of crowds in the summer and winter parking can be a problem. It is in walking distance from other car parks.
Living here you see how over rated it actually is, yeah on a greta day it fu***ng rips but these are very few and far between. I always surf here and have only ever once seen waves as good as most of the pics. Best time is low tide after a winter as the banks are sick but after the summer only a big swell is REALLY good. Crowds and Ego's are the problem.
I've surfed this beach as my 'local' for the past 10 years. Yes it is crowded but that's becouse it's so reliable! Autumn and winter thin the crowds as does size. At 4-6' at low tide this place is excellent. Don't believe the 'once only' visitor, this place is worth the hype.
The sea is polluted by sewage - I have been 3 times and each time I was very Ill about 24 hours after going in the sea. If you really like surfing there are so many superior places to go. If you just like the surf 'scene' with clothes shops etc then it would probably be ok.
OK, so crowds are a problem. It doesn't need to be 6ft before they start to thin out though. A bit of rain is normally enough to clear the beach (and sea) of tourists! If the surf is 4ft+ and clean Fistral beats the hell out of most breaks on the North coast. It's always more punchy, and consistent. At the north end on a mid-push tide, a real fast hollow right can develop. Lifeguards encourage beginners to head to the centre of the beach, so the north end IS busy, most will know what they are doing. No local hassles, just the better surfers getting the best waves.