I recall a similar thread from not to long ago, some point in the fall, where Cali guys were talking about the difficulty/surprise they had with East Coast 'cane swells...we all know it's less consistent here, but when it's on it's on, there's no denying that.
I would add at least 50% size to compare West Cost to East. 6 ft Mid-Atlantic is similar to 9 ft Pacific Central America, 4 ft = 6 ft etc. Gives a little to compare, and for a "normal" beach break compared to "normal" beach break.
There are 2 main factors here:
1) The wave period
2) The ocean bottom topography
The wave periods in hurricanes can often be much longer then most of the swells we see on the east coast, but even still often times the wave periods are even longer in the Pacific. But, yes, the hurricane swells will be a little closer in comparison to those Costa Rica swells due to the longer periods.
The ocean bottoms vary so much, so its really hard to compare the entire East Coast... There are both beach breaks and reef breaks in Costa Rica, but there are more Beach breaks then anything over there. There beach breaks aren't so different then some beach breaks, say in Hatteras.
The primary difference is that Costa Rica is so consistent. They get waves traveling from storms in both the North and Pacific, and they are just north of the equator, right there in the middle. It is one of the most consistent places in the world for surf!