Yes, all the people who told you that Kona is on the dry side, West Coast of the Big Island, and Hilo is on the wetter, rainier East Coast, are definitely right. For this obvious reason Kona has more ocean front hotels and therefore is much more touristy than Hilo and Hilo area.. But isn't that what you have come for...sunny and dry weather in order to escape the rain from the Mainland!
Here are a few recommendation. Unless you really love the tropical rain forest and prefer black sand beach - there are no white sand beaches on the East coast - which are typical features of Hilo and area, decide for a West coast vacation!
No need to stay in touristy Kona, which can be at times quite 'voggy' (looks like fog but are fumes from our active volcano). Stay north of Kona, on the sunny Kohala Coast. Admittedly, the Kohala Coast resorts are quite expensive but there are quite a number of vacation rentals close to the best white sand beaches, Hapuna and Mauna Kea Beach!
The Kohala Coast has great snorkel spots in Puako. If you want to explore Kealakekua Bay, our best Big Island snorkel area, it's a short 30min drive to Honokahau Harbor where all the Kona snorkel ships take off.
When staying on the Kohala Coast, you can do a day trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Take the route via Waimea and Hilo (or even stay 2 nights in Hilo area), which is longer but straighter than the very curvy Kona one and passes all the best Big Island sights like Waipio Valley.
After your long adventurous day to the Park, stay a night or two in Volcano. There are wonderful Volcano places near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with jacuzzi where you can rest and recuperate from a day of Big Island adventure.
Enjoy the movie at the Visitor's Center, the Thurston Lava Tubes and of course, the fireworks of Madame Pele...hot lava flowing into the ocean and shooting up into the skies. Wow!
After all those exciting adventures, you will be happy when you are back lying on the warm sunny Hapuna beach. Have a wonderful Big Island vacation in Kona, Hilo and the Kohala Coast. Aloha, Pua Hawaii Vacation Kona and Hawaii Vacation Hilo