It was the first such major marina in the north metropolitan region of Perth. Construction of the new harbour commenced in September, 1985. Boat launching facilities were completed in October, 1986 and boats started moving into the pen moorings two months later, just before the start of the 1987 America's Cup Challenge Series.
The facility was extensively upgraded during 2008 to incorporate a new boardwalk, tavern and retail outlets. A feature of this upgrade is a drawbridge arrangement to allow boats to be moored inside the network of boardwalks.
Hillarys is also home to AQWA - The Aquarium of Western Australia - which showcases the marine life and unique regions of Western Australia's 12,000 km coastline. The aquarium opens daily. Other attractions in and around the harbour include a waterslide and putt-putt course as well as fishing charters and cruises.