The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude 4.5 quake struck at about 2 p.m. Wednesday 13 miles southeast of Waimea. It had a depth of 11.6 miles.
It was followed by at least a dozen smaller quakes ranging in magnitude from 1.7 to 3.6 within the first hour.
No tsunami alert was issued.
Residents across the island reported feeling light to moderate shaking, but there were no immediate reports of damage.
Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory Seismologist Weston Thelen says the smaller quakes are normal sizes for an aftershock sequence. He says they can continue at low levels for several days.
A 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck the Big Island on Oct. 15, 2006.