The Island of Santa Catalina is located less than 20 miles from Los Angeles, and is composed of 76 square miles. Containing pristine beaches, high peaks, isolated coves, and broad valleys, the island of Catalina is a diverse habitat which is home to thousands of species of plants and animals. Fifteen of these plants and animals can be found nowhere else in the world, including the Catalina Island Fox, the Catalina Mahogany, the Beechey Ground Squirrel, and the Catalina Ironwood plant. Used by many for livestock, mining, and recreation in the past 200 years, the island is now a well-developed vacation spot, which has had it's effect on the land and native life forms that live there. In 1975 however, a healing process for Catalina was begun by the Catalina Island Conservancy, which took over the ownership of 88% of the island. Today, the conservancy endevours to preserve the natural diversity of the island while allowing thousands of visitors to enjoy it yearly. Although it is known that Catalina Island was inhabited previous to it's discovery by Cabrillo in 1542, little is known about it's early inhabitants. After this group of inhabitants however, another group that is known about, the Island Pimu, a group of Native Americans belonging to the Gabrielino group inhabited Catalina as well. It is believed that in winter, the natives stayed near places like Avalon, Two Harbors, and White Landing, and that in other seasons they stayed near the inland of the island possibly due to changes in the weather, or fresh water and food availability. As with other islanders, the Pimu traded with the mainland frequently for goods that they did not have. At their peak, it is thought that there was a population between 500 and 2,500 people, but as happened on other island, they were inevitably wiped out entirely by cultures intolerant of their own.

The Gabrielinos on the mainland called Catalina "Wexaj momte asunga wow", meaning, "Mountain ranges that are in the sea". Although the Spanish explorer Cabrillo named the island San Salvador, the name Santa Catalina was given to the island by explorer Sebastian Viscaino to honor St. Catherine.