The Kapingamarangi canoes differed from others in Oceania. The main hull was constructed of five parts: the dugout, the bow and stern extensions that also formed part of the washstrake, and two fill-in pieces that completed the washstrake. There were also three booms that connected the main hull to the float. (See Appendices A, B and E)


Depending on the particular use of the canoe, different variations existed; still this general configuration was used with all canoes built on the atoll up until about 1920.

With the cult religion importance of the traditional Kapingamarangi canoe no longer a factor due to the influence of Christianity, the builders adopted the design of the Nukuoro canoe. This new style required only one tree, however it was larger than what was required of the Kapinga type, and was considered easier to build. The new religion came from Nukuoro, so it is not surprising that the Nukuoro culture also influenced their canoe design. For the Kapingamarangi, the ocean, their canoes, and their religion had always been closely tied.