The 7.3 magnitude quake struck Sunday just after midnight about 140 miles south of Vanuatu's capital, Port Vila. The U.S. Geological Survey said it was about 15 miles below the ocean floor.
A tsunami wave measuring about 6 inches was recorded on some coastlines at Vanuatu, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said. New Caledonia and Fiji also were warned a tsunami was possible on their coasts, but the warning was canceled about an hour and a half after the temblor.
"This tsunami may have been destructive along coastlines of the region near the earthquake epicentre," it said, but cancelled the warning when no destructive wave hit, according to the AFP.
Locals report they were not warned of a possible tsunami.
"We haven't had any notification of a tsunami," a hotel worker told AFP. "We definitely felt the earthquake but we are notified if there's actually a tsunami."
Vanuatu is part of the Pacific "ring of fire" - an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching from Chile in South America through Alaska and down through the South Pacific.
A 7.5 temblor that struck under the sea floor just 25 miles from Port Vila in August panicked residents but did not cause significant damage.