Looking for a new or different experience with Greek islands, one that gives a sense that this is how Greeks live? The three covered in this chapter -- Samos, Hios (Chios), and Lesvos (Mitilini) -- might be the destination for you. Far removed from the Greek mainland and dispersed along the coast of Turkey, these islands are still relatively untouched by tourism. Vacationers here tend to be concentrated in a few resorts, leaving the interiors and much of the coast open to exploration.

Along their coasts, you'll find some of the finest beaches in the Aegean, and within the interiors richly forested valleys, precipitous mountain slopes, and exquisite mountain villages. These agricultural islands produce olives, grapes, and honey in abundance, providing the basis for excellent local cuisine.

The influence of Asia Minor is not as evident as you might expect, given the proximity of the Turkish coast. What you may notice is the sizable Greek military presence -- certain areas of each island are occupied by the military and are off limits, which shouldn't bother you unless you're hiking or biking in the area. Travel between Greece and Turkey remains unrestricted, and relations between the two countries on a personal level seem amicable. Many travelers use the Northeastern Aegean islands as jumping-off points for Turkey; in particular, Samos (only 3km/2 miles away at the closest point) offers easy access to Ephesus.