Twenty-two miles off the coast of Southern California lies Santa Catalina Island. The island is referred to as simply Catalina Island, or just Catalina. It is an isolated island with fewer than 5,000 residents, and most of them live in its only incorporated city, Avalon. It is part of a group of islands called the Channel Islands of California. The climate on the island is typically Southern Californian with warm temperatures all year round. Catalina Island has a rich history that dates back to the 16th Century when Spanish explorers visited the island. Archaeological evidence indicates that Native American tribes occupied the island centuries before that. The island had been a possession of Mexico, and eventually of the United States.
There are two common ways to get to the island today. Most people travel to Catalina by boat from either Orange or Los Angeles County points. Helicopter rides are also available for more daring travelers. The island today is a tourist attraction that features island tours, sport fishing, scuba diving, surfing, parasailing, and beachcombing. In past years, the island was a hotspot for the Hollywood rich and famous. Glass-bottom boat tours are available for those interested in exploring the reef system or the shipwrecks in the region. The underwater dive park is also a popular attraction for visitors.
Catalina Island is also famous, or perhaps infamous, as the location where actress Natalie Wood died in the waters off the island's coast. The controversial death occurred more than 30 years ago while Wood and her husband, actor Robert Wagner, were sailing their yacht. Her death is still controversial today.