Faster and more maneuvrable than a karavi, an ikoiya is similar to a fluyt in shape, having a total of three masts with two large and one small sail each. Like karavi, ikoiya have a pointed stern and bow, but the latter is longer.

Rather than a single cargo hold with a removable deck, an ikoiya has two fully-covered decks, with the fair-sized cargo hold on the lowest. The second enclosed deck can be used either for more cargo or for passengers, with the crew quarters housed in the three-decked stern. The ship's gunners and most of the active crew (12-15) are then stationed on the top, open deck.

An ikoiya's draft is so shallow it can enter rivers, coves and small harbours inaccessible to other craft.