A magnitude-6.5 earthquake struck north east of Barbados, jolting thousands from their sleep but causing no reported damage or casualties.
It was also felt in the nearby French Caribbean island of Martinique.
The US Geological Survey said the quake struck at a depth of 17 kilometres at 5.27am local time today and was centred some 170 kilometres north east of Bathsheba, Barbados.
Barbados police constable Chris Greg told the Associated Press that the earthquake was felt throughout the island. "It was strong," he said.
Dennis Connell, a 55-year-old security supervisor at a local country club, said that he was just starting to wake up when the earthquake struck.
"I felt like the place was spinning," he said, adding that he did not realise it was an earthquake. "I thought I was going to be sick."
Mr Connell lives at Barbados's most northern point, and said there was no damage to his home or his neighbours' houses.
Judy Thomas, director of Barbados's emergency management department, said that thousands of people felt the quake but that it did not last very long.
She said she has received no reports of injuries or damage to infrastructure, and that there is no threat of tsunami.
"We're advising people to go about their business as usual," she said.
The eastern Caribbean was last struck by a powerful earthquake in 2007, when a magnitude-7.4 quake centred just north west of Martinique's coastline severely damaged some buildings on the island.